Ormoc City, a city of about 215,000 people, is located in Eastern Visayas. The city is located in the region that was ravaged by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest typhoons in history owing to the worsening climate change. Prior to Yolanda, about eight thousand lives were lost in the city due to typhoon Uring (Thelma), which overwhelmed the city with floodwater.
Having been placed in a challenging location in the Philippines, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez leads in the efforts to ensure that the environmental integrity of their hometown is preserved for the future generations. Ormoc City is currently a leader in disaster-resiliency efforts and the promotion of renewable energy.
According to a publication of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ormoc City is considered a model for disaster resilience in the Philippines. Although the city also bore the brunt of strong typhoons in recent memory, its casualty count was considerably downtrending as slit dams were built to protect residents from landslides and floating trees during a flood.
In September, the city also hosted the Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD), which discussed the gaps and challenges in the continued efforts for disaster risk reduction. Mayor Richard Gomez also highlights their No Plastics day program, environmental workshops and programs, and climate change resilience and adaptation for farmers.
Aside from protecting its people from present environmental threats, Ormoc City continues to invest in the future. Renewable energy is probably the biggest gift of Ormoc to its future generations. It hosts the third largest steam field in the world, which is considered as one of the leading renewable energy sources.
The city also started to use solar-powered buses and jeepneys in the city. Additionally, the city council had passed an ordinance that new building, houses, and subdivisions must have rainwater harvesting and collecting facilities to save water resources. The city is also in the works to finish a 25-year plan for a Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) with the assistance from the UN-Habitat under the Building Climate Resiliency through Urban Designs (BCRUD) Project.
The strongest environmental stance of Ormoc City is currently shaping up with its take on coal-fired power plants. As a bastion of renewable energy, the Ormoc mayor is against establishing coal-fired power plants in the city. Coal-fired plants release smoke and by-products that are harmful to people and the immediate environment.
With all these efforts, Ormoc City was recently awarded the Allen S. Quimpo Memorial Awardee on Climate Governance. The award was given by The Climate Reality Project Philippines, which advocates for local governments to contribute in the overarching goal of saving the environment. Gomez takes the award as a validation of their local efforts in continuing to promote renewable energy. As part of the Local Climate Change Action Plan, together with the National Resilience Council, Mayor Richard Gomez voices a strong stance against coal-fired power plants. As Gomez puts it, “For as long as I am the mayor of Ormoc City, there will be no coal-fired power plant in our place.”