PEOPLE enjoy a car-free Sunday morning along Ayala Avenue in Makati City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

BRINGING DOWN the cost of eco-friendly choices and securing National Government support will help make cities become more sustainable, experts said.

“I think for the most part, people want to live sustainably, what is really preventing them is maybe the cost and that is where the ‘green premium’ comes in. So, the whole objective is how do we work to bring down the green premium,” Anna Ma. Margarita B. Dy, president and chief executive officer of Ayala Land, Inc., said during a panel discussion on building sustainable cities at the FINEX Conference 2023 on Friday.

The green premium is defined as the additional cost of picking a green-labeled building over conventional buildings.

“In the property development sphere, if all of us have that net-zero target, then all our suppliers need to work towards that and all our customers will now demand that, and with that, we all have to work towards bringing down the green premium,” Ms. Dy said.

The focus of companies should be on bringing down the green premium, she added.

Paulo G. Alcazaren, urban planner and landscape architect at PGAA Creative Design, said one of the main challenges in developing a sustainable city is access to land.

“It is really land and access to land. There should be an audit of all the remaining government land because the natural tendency for the government is to sell it off when in fact all of these spaces can be used,” he said.

Makati Mayor Mar-len Abigail Binay-Campos said that existing land resources and the National Government support are things to be considered  in developing sustainable cities.

“The biggest frustration are things that are beyond our control. So number one, you need the support of the National Government,” she said.

Ms. Binay-Campos noted an LGU (local government unit) can try to decongest its city, but it needs relocate people to another area and provide livelihood for them.

“There are certain things that need or require the support of the National Government, for example if you want to decongest your city, you will have to relocate people in another area but if you do that, you’ll have to find a space for that and provide livelihood,” she said.

Ms. Binay-Campos said decongestion and decentralization will be ineffective if the government will not be able to provide the needs of the people in the area where they are relocated.

D.M. Wenceslao Group Chief Executive Officer Delfin Angelo C. Wenceslao said property developers should aim to improve urban mobility within their projects.

“In Aseana City, the smallest size of sidewalks are five meters, so whenever somebody builds or leases land from us, we ask them to follow the guidelines and enforce it,” Mr. Wenceslao said.

“And we see that people who bought or leased land from us, if they see that the first two builders have already done it, they will see that it’s natural (to be) continuing it,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile