The next speaker was a few minutes late. I was sitting in one of the roundtable discussions in the Climate Change Adaptation for Local Economic Development (CCA4LED) conference held back in January 2011. Coincidentally, Mayor Edward Hagedorn plunked himself next to my seat, muttered a few greetings and quickly apologized for the interruption. His flight was delayed. I recall that he ordered Coke, and Halo-Halo, one of my favourite Filipino classic desserts. Luckily, I had just finished an assignment called Benchmarking Best LED practices Across Asia, and to no surprise, this distinguished politician next to me came up in my research. I was familiar enough with his work and accomplishments as the Mayor of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Here’s an excerpt of the LED report I spearheaded, a joint effort by the Local Government Academy (LGA) and the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED).
CASE STUDY: Responsible Destination Development: Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines
Mayor Edward Hagedorn’s leadership and vision helped developed Puerta Princesa as a prime ecotourism spot in the country, attracting foreigners and domestic visitors alike. Responsible, environmental sustainable programs and eco-friendly development strategies are the centerpiece of his vision to help shape the city as clean, green and safe haven for adventure seekers. The City uses schools/education, festivals and campaigns to raise environmental awareness and educate the youth about their protection programs.
Mayor Hagedorn pioneered three major initiatives:
- The Baywatch Bantay Dagat (Guardians of the Sea) programme- protected area from illegal fishing with daily sea patrols and monthly foot patrols
- Bantay Gubat (Guardians of the Forest)- Community-based forest management programme designed to reduce illegal logging, wildlife poaching etc
- Prison Without Walls- prison involved in tourism by hosting hot springs, waterfalls and an administration complex that includes handicrafts shops
These efforts reinforce the commitment of the citizens, youths, volunteers, municipal government and NGOs to promote and maintain a clean and green city. Puerto Princesa won several awards including the “cleanest and greenest” city award; Asian Institute of Management Award for its satellite library system among others. Its market for tourism is booming because of its natural assets, tourism products and development management- one that is responsible.
Since his mayoral term will expire soon, and it seems like he has no plans in retiring politics, it would be interesting to see how his candidacy for the senate position pans out. But one thing is for sure: You can bet he has an environmental platform.