Our Vision: A Sustainable and Resilient Manila Bay

The overall objective of the Master Plan is captured in the vision statement, 

“A Sustainable and Resilient Manila Bay”. 

This vision is characterized by:

  • A protection of Manila Bay ecosystem that sustainably delivers variety of services,
  • An equitable improvement in the quality of life in the Manila Bay area,
  • Manila Bay communities with access to safe, affordable and formal housing with access to basic services and economic opportunities,
  • An improved and sustainable Manila Bay water quality suitable for its intended beneficial use, and
  • Safe, resilient, and adaptive Manila Bay ecosystems and communities.

A protection of Manila Bay ecosystem that sustainably delivers variety of services.

Ecosystem protection centers on the foundational value of ecosystems to human life. Through land and sea cultivation and through urbanization, humans have transformed ecosystems to their benefit. The concept of ecosystem services captures the link between socio-economic welfare and wellbeing and ecological health and sustainability. Human activities impact the ecosystem. Ecosystems are innately resilient and can thus cope with human pressures to a certain extent. However, if pressures are too much or too many, the ecosystems may not be able to cope and may be altered adversely affecting the inherent value of organisms, such as loss of biodiversity or endangered species, and/or impact to human benefits (i.e., reduced fish stocks or unhealthy bathing water). Therefore, the protection of ecosystems is not only required for the protection of species and biodiversity but also for a sustainable human society.

The key indicators on ecosystem protection are encapsulated by (i) area of protected natural habitat, and (ii) fish stock biomass.

It is envisioned that by 2040 the area of protected natural habitat (i.e., (intertidal mudflat, mangrove, coral) is doubled and the fish stock biomass is increased by three folds and approximates the 1973 standing of biomass.

An equitable improvement in the quality of life in the Manila Bay area.

Inclusive growth in this study mainly dwells on how the net benefits from the use and development of Manila Bay marine, freshwater and coastal resources are distributed across sectors. It also centers on the equity and equality in the capture of opportunities, access to basic services and influence on policy and decision-making processes by key sectors but particularly by marginalized groups (i.e., ISFs, farmers and fishers). The objective includes addressing how the weaknesses of existing policies and institutions along with climate and disaster risks, and other factors drive that marginalization of such groups as the ISFs, farmers and fishers among others. It also captures the large intra-urban inequality causing high level of income segregation, high level of poverty incidence (%), and a large number of ISFs that often have limited or no access to public services and a high percentage of (unskilled) people working in the informal sector and having very uncertain and unstable sources of income.

The 2015 average poverty incidence (within the plan area only) of 4.56% translates to almost one million Filipinos living below this poverty line.

It is envisioned that by 2030 the average poverty incidence in the plan area is reduced to 1.5% and by 2040 “Filipinos live in a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor”—consistent with the Ambisyon Natin 2040.

Manila Bay communities with access to safe, affordable and formal housing with access to basic services and economic opportunities.

The large number of urban dwellers (recent migrants and long-term residents) in Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) creates stiff competition for limited housing. Millions, especially low-income families, are pushed to live in informal settlements. But not all informal settlers are income poor. There are those who earn relatively high income but ends up in informal settlements for lack of available housing opportunities close to their work. They would rather suffer the inconveniences and dangers of poor living conditions than to live far away from, or risk losing their source of income. About 45 percent urban poor overall (and about 39 percent in Metro Manila) are able to afford dwellings constructed with strong quality of wall materials, as compared to 89 percent of non-poor (World Bank Group, 2017). Under the MBSDMP, the focus on ISF pertains not only in addressing the limited access to basic services (i.e., water, power, sanitation, waste management, health facilities, education) but in ensuring that the settlement areas are safe and not within hazard prone areas, and where economic opportunities remain available. The challenge of determining the number of ISFs living within hazard prone areas remains.

The key indicator of improving informal settlement with the access to safe, affordable, and formal housing with access to basic services and economic opportunities is ultimately making the legal easement—a hazard-prone area—free from any settlement. 

It is then envisioned that ISFs in hazard-prone areas are a thing of the past and waterways and esteros are free of obstruction.

An improved and sustainable Manila Bay water quality suitable for its intended beneficial use.

Water quality improvement means reducing or preventing the contamination of a particular water body such as a river, a stream, a lake or the sea using a watershed (ridge to reef) approach. For Manila Bay, water quality improvement is needed now more than ever to reverse the degradation of bay and coastal ecosystems and restore the richness of its services to society. Water quality improvement is a cornerstone of any attempt to bring back the vibrancy and resiliency of Manila Bay. Over the years, the water quality of Manila Bay has continuously deteriorated due to increasing discharges from untreated domestic and industrial sources, as well as urban and agricultural runoffs. Increasing sediments from upstream areas has also been observed with adverse impacts on corals, mudflats and sea grass. Sea-based activities (i.e., aquaculture and waste dumping from passenger ships and cargo vessels) also contribute to the increasing pollutants load of the Bay.

The key indicators to improved water quality is encapsulated by (i) pollution load on Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and phosphate (PO4) entering Manila Bay, (ii) Manila Bay monitoring stations meeting SB guideline value for fecal coliform, (iii) solid waste diversion rate, and (iv) number of open dump sites.

It is envisioned that by 2022, solid waste diversion rate within the MB area is at 80%—consistent to the PDP 2017-2022, and that all open dumpsites within the Manila Bay area are immediately and permanently closed.

By 2040, it is envisioned that pollution load of BOD and PO4 entering Manila Bay is reduced significantly and that Manila Bay is meeting the SB guideline values for fecal coliform.

Safe, resilient, and adaptive Manila Bay ecosystems and communities.

The marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems, along with urban areas within the Manila Bay Area are exposed and vulnerable to climate change and other natural hazards. The mortality and damage due to climate change and natural disasters could impinge on the attainment of inclusive growth, improvement of informal settlements and water quality, and ecosystem protection. Additionally, the exposure and vulnerability of Manila Bay Area to climate change and natural hazards are either attenuated or amplified by increasing human activities in the area, and the degradation of the natural environment. In the absence of appropriate measures to reduce risks and vulnerabilities, and enhance adaptive capacity, the adverse impacts of natural disasters and climate change on Manila Bay and the entire MBA could result to substantial general welfare losses that could lead to more poverty and decline in adaptive and coping capacity of vulnerable sectors, and eventually compromising the sustainability of Manila Bay. Hence, DRR and CCA are indispensable in promoting the sustainability and resiliency of Manila Bay.

As other key indicators, in one way or another, contribute to having a safe, resilient, and adaptive Manila Bay ecosystems and communities, a key indicator is augmented to capture people expose to natural hazards, particularly flood.

It is envisioned that by 2030 the number of people exposed to floods is reduced by at least 51%—consistent to the Global Target B of Sendai Framework of “substantially reducing the number of people directly affected by disasters”.

Ultimately, it is envisioned that in the near future Manila Bay is clean, rehabilitated, and preserved, and that its waters is restore and maintain—making them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.