Concerns about a new airport in vulnerable Manila Bay
In Manila Bay, a vulnerable coastal area next to the Philippine capital city, a new airport is being planned, with involvement of the Dutch water sector. Local civil society organisations raised their concerns about this airport, which has large impact on the lives of local residents and on the ecosystem.
The Philippines has formed a partnership with the Netherlands in 2016 to create the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP). This Master Plan should guide decision-makers in the assessment and approval of programs, activities, projects for implementation in Manila Bay and in adjacent areas with significant influence on the bay.
Part of the Master Plan is a recommendation on how to deal with the many unsolicited proposals for land reclamation that are offered to the government. These proposals are problematic as often the goal of the reclamation is unclear and the project sites are overlapping. The MBSDMP states that these proposals need to be evaluated in the context of all requests in order to get sustainable development in Manila Bay.
Environmental and social concerns about the new airport
One of the largest proposed land reclamation projects is the New Manila International Airport (NMIA), planned to be constructed off the coast of Bulacan province. Local civil society and communities have many concerns regarding the airport and the impact on the environment and their lives. The land reclamation and further infrastructure of the airport will cause damages to and loss of natural habitats and ecosystems in the Bulacan area and surrounding areas where physical development and construction activities will take place. The project area consists of mangrove forests and mudflats that are the nursery for many fish and bird species, and play an important role for migratory birds as a resting place in their travels.
All residents that were living on the proposed project location have been displaced from their homes. Some people left and self-demolished their homes voluntarily in return for compensation whereas others were denied access to their houses without their consent. There are no clear plans to support the relocation of the local population and help with alternative livelihood opportunities. Civil society is also worried about the safety of the people in informal settlements in the area. The airport and the further infrastructure will provide job opportunities but it is unclear if the local residents will be included in these opportunities and their futures are uncertain.
Airport is contradictory to the MBSDMP
The location of the NMIA is in a strict environmental protection zone. These zones are recommended by the MBSDMP to protect the mangrove forests and other vulnerable habitats. The Master Plan contains a policy note that states that the current location is not suitable for the NMIA, finding another location would be best. If the project is not relocated, well planned compensation for the loss of habitat and mangroves should be implemented. Despite the involvement of the Dutch water sector in the design of the MBSDMP, the Dutch dredging company Boskalis has been contracted to do the land development for the reclamation.
The communities that are affected are barely able to get in touch with the exploiting party and they do not get sufficient information on what is happening. Both ENDS's local partner organizations try to influence the situation, which is very challenging as it is hard for them to get in contact with the authorities. In the Dutch context, Both ENDS brings the voices of these local partners to the fore and supports them by bringing human rights and environmental protection to the attention of the involved Dutch parties. The MBSDMP in itself offers a vision and principles that enable sustainable and inclusive development of Manila Bay and Both ENDS and partners therefore aim for this master plan to be leading for further developments in the area.
For more information
Read more about this subject
News / 22 March 2021
The importance of a gender perspective in Dutch water policies
An increasing number of stakeholders in the Dutch water sector are acknowledging the importance of an inclusive approach to climate adaptation. However, where our knowledge institutes and companies are involved in delta plans and master plans, as in Bangladesh and the Philippines, this approach is proving difficult to apply in practice. Taking local realities, vulnerabilities and inequalities – such as those between men and women – as a starting point is essential for good plans that give everyone the opportunity to adapt to climate change.
News / 26 July 2021
CSOs call upon Dutch government not to support destructive land reclamation in Manila Bay
Both ENDS, together with nine other parties has expressed their concern on the development of a new airport off the coast in Manila Bay, Philippines, where the Dutch company Royal Boskalis Westminster has been contracted for the land development. In a joint letter of concern, different organisations and stakeholders describe the alarming situation around this contested airport that will be built on newly reclaimed land.
A Negotiated Approach for Inclusive Water Governance
A Negotiated Approach envisages the meaningful and long-term participation of communities in all aspects of managing the water and other natural resources on which their lives depend. It seeks to achieve healthy ecosystems and equitable sharing of benefits among all stakeholders within a river basin. This inclusive way of working is an essential precondition for the Transformative Practices that are promoted by Both ENDS and partners.
News / 2 July 2019
Indonesia: Women’s Right to Water
The water quality of East Java's largest river, the Brantas River, is increasingly deteriorating due to a combination of industrial and household waste. This environmental pollution has a disproportionate impact on women. Yet, their participation in decision-making remains lacking. ECOTON is working to improve the situation.
Publication / 21 March 2023
Blog / 2 February 2019
“Poldering” to face climate change
Last week Mark Rutte met with Ban Ki Moon, Bill Gates and World Bank Director Kristalina Georgieva in Davos. They are the chairpersons of the Global Commission on Adaptation, which was also founded by the Netherlands. This is an important organisation because, as Rutte wrote on Twitter, "climate change is the biggest challenge of this century," and as an international community we should "pay attention to the problems of the countries that are being threatened by climate change."
News / 21 March 2023
Agua es vida: Both ENDS and water governance
Water is literally life, the lifeblood of ecosystems, of nature, of humans. However, in many places the distribution and use of water is unjust and unsustainable. Water management is generally focused on short-term economic interests, on maximizing the profit of a well-connected few at the expense of people and nature. This dominant view of water and water management has its origins in the European industrial revolution, which became the global norm through colonialism and globalization. But according to Melvin van der Veen and Murtah Shannon, water experts at Both ENDS, this view will have to give way to equitable, sustainable and inclusive water management. Both ENDS cooperates with and supports communities and organisations worldwide who are working to this end.
News / 26 January 2022
Ondiri shines again during World Wetlands Day
Ondiri wetland in Kenya will host the official national World Wetlands Day
celebration on the 2nd of February. This news was received with much joy by the residents of Kikuyu Town and conservationists. For many years, Ondiri Wetland was
polluted and degraded, especially due to encroachment and greenhouse farming. But thanks to sustained and concerted efforts by the residents together with a broad range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, the conservation of this critical wetland is now being secured. Violet Matiru from Kenyan organisation Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI), finds it a great honor that Ondiri was selected for the celebrations. "The cherry on the pie!"
Inclusive ways to sustainable and healthy food for all
All around the world small-scale farmers are using sustainable and inclusive methods to produce food. Working together with nature and each other, they provide their families and communities with sufficient and healthy food. But their production methods are under pressure from large-scale agriculture and the globally dominant system of industrial food production. Together with our partners, Both ENDS is trying to turn the tide in favour of sustainable, local practices that are mostly known as 'agro-ecological' or 'nature-inclusive'. Why are we focusing on these methods? Agro-ecological practices are climate-proof and inclusive and increase the opportunities for communities around the world to produce their food sustainably.
News / 13 August 2021
Food sovereignty in the polders of Southwest Bangladesh
The situation in the southwest delta of Bangladesh is critical. Because of sea level rise, floods are increasing and the area is about to become uninhabitable, despite Dutch-style dikes and polders built in the previous century. Partner organisation Uttaran works with local communities on climate-friendly solutions that restore the living environment and give the inhabitants a say about their future and food production.
External link / 19 June 2020
Community-based governance for free-flowing tidal rivers (Annual Report 2019)
Tidal River Management (TRM) is based on age-old community practices. In 2019, Uttaran helped ensure that TRM was seen by policymakers as a solution to waterlogging in the delta of Bangladesh, and that the voices of women and youth were being taken into account.
News / 3 July 2019
Kenya: Community Network for a healthy Athi river
Through pollution and water scarcity, communities along the Kenyan Athi River have learnt the hard way that upstream and downstream communities are inevitably connected. In response to indiscriminate impacts on the environment and people's livelihoods, civil society organisations within the Athi River Basin formed the Athi River Community Network (ARCN).
News / 4 July 2019
Bangladesh: Involving communities for free rivers
Tidal rivers in the southwest coastal area of Bangladesh have been dying since flood plains were replaced by Dutch-style polders in the 70s. Rivers are silted up, and during monsoon season water gets trapped within embankments. Every year, this situation of waterlogging inflicts adverse consequences particularly on women, as they take care of the household in waterlogged conditions in the absence of men who travel to the city in search of temporary work. NGO Uttaran is advocating for a change in policy and practice.
News / 19 August 2021
Violet Matiru: “Communities around colonial Ruiru I Dam still struggle”
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
News / 16 August 2016
Art as a powerful messenger: music from the Pantanal
10 songs: that is the result of a 4 day long, 450 km boat trip through the Pantanal with 36 people. The project Pantanal Poética sought and found a new way to look at the Pantanal, a valuable but threatened nature reserve on the border of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Publication / 4 October 2019
News / 23 March 2020
Women in Latin America claim their right to water
In many places in Latin America, access to clean water is under great pressure from overuse and pollution, often caused by large-scale agriculture or mining. This has significant impact, especially on women. In March, with International Women's Day on March 8 and World Water Day on March 22, they make themselves heard and claim their right to water.
Event / 23 August 2021, 13:00 - 14:00
World Water Week seminar: the politics of water and the choices we can make
What do we mean when we say the 'politics of water'? How are the distribution of water and the access to water influenced by political-economic interests? And who has the power to reverse the flow and change tides?
News / 26 September 2018
Temporary ban on new hydro dams in the Brazilian Pantanal
Good news from Brazil! The National Water Agency (ANA) has stopped issuing new permits for the construction of hydroelectric dams in the Brazilian Paraguay river basin, which is part of the Pantanal wetlands in South-America. The suspension will last at least until May 2020, after the publication of a comprehensive socio-economic and environmental impact assessment that the ANA started in 2016.
Video / 8 November 2019
Athi River Community Network
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.