Expert Interview: Marc Canton, Lead Convenor, Movement for a Livable Cebu

About success stories for civil society on sustainable urban mobility in Cebu and replication of good practices.


Dear Marc, you took part in our Practitioners' Workshop as the Representative of the civil society of Cebu City, Philippines, a city with around 800,000 inhabitants.
Could you describe in 2 sentences the Movement for Livable Cebu and what you do?

The Movement for Livable Cebu is a non for profit civil society CEC registered organization and made up of member volunteers who come from all sectors of society including professionals, people with disabilities, urban poor, students, academics, business men and landowners.
Started in September 2011, the group was formed as a reaction to the unannounced flyover in Cebu city.

The event addressed the issue of sustainable urban mobility. What is your biggest mobility challenge in Cebu and how is civil society involved in addressing it?

The traffic worsened in Cebu City in the last 5 years: it is now 5 times worse. Cebu used to be known as a 15-minute commute city now each commute takes 45 minutes to 2 hours. MLC has been involved at all level of discussions against flyovers and it proposed other solutions such as flared intersections with traffic light systems and worked with the city traffic management group to help change people’ s behavior (hardly following rules here). There is in fact no sense on who has priority when it comes to traffic. These actions in many areas are slowly helping policy changes in traffic management. The most common mistakes have been identified. However as the planning side moves too quickly it seems easier to instead identifying problems to actually focus on symptoms. Citizens don’t necessarily follow traffic rules and miss in mutual respect for others and in consideration for others because they can get away with it as there is no enforcement. People need basic traffic education.

Could you briefly mention a success story for civil society on sustainable urban mobility in your city and the 2 key factors that made it succeed?

Our biggest victory was that we were able to stop a total of 7 flyovers in the city. The key success factors for this moratorium on flyovers was that we informed, visited, met with every possible authority in the traffic area, at all government levels up to the Country President and never stopped. A key element was that we never gave up and never played in the field where we would have lost: politics. We instead focused on the legal aspect, specifically on the constitution and the local government code. We did not get involved to gain something from it. Legal professionals and the media joined us and supported us in this process and that impressed the local government specifically before the local election as a 300 bl pesos budget was planned for each flyover.

Which good practice at the event inspired you more and why?

In general I was impressed to see how many participants from so many different local back-grounds there were and how everyone’s experience and role counts: it was a source of inspiration. I particularly appreciated the Leipzig presentation and how the Leipzig expert managed to visually show us how we can plan mobility better in Cebu City. At the same time he presented the case of Leipzig and how the city managed to change in such a relatively short timespan. At first it seemed an impossible situation, like here in Cebu. If they can do that why can we not do restauration and revitalisation as well as introducing biking and pedestrian zones in the culture of our city.

Do you see the possibility for replication of one of these good practices in your city? What are the challenges in this?

Definitely. I think that further connecting with the Leipzig colleague will provide great help in realizing the revitalization of Colon street (ndr one of the project ideas discussed as part of the action planning day at the Connective Cities workshop)

The biggest challenge I see is the possible change in the political urban landscape as local elections will take place in May 2016. If the current leadership will be reconfirmed it will probably easier to continue what we have started. We were outside before, then we were progressively allowed first into building then into the boardroom. We are helping contributing in the decision making and we fear that with a new government we would go back in the rally.

How do you see such a networking event contributing to your daily job?

First of all, I learned a lot of techniques on how to organise stakeholders meetings and ew ways in doing things help in the day to day running of consultation processes.
Secondly I was connected with a network of experts that you can get guidance from and that is a great added value to my work.

erstellt von:
Alice Balbo, German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag)