In September, Dr. Joaquin “Jay” Gonzalez III facilitated a series of training workshops on urban development conducted by USAID’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project — a partnership with the University of the Philippines-Visayas (Iloilo), University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (Cagayan de Oro), and Holy Name University (Tagbilaran, Bohol). A Filipino-American looking to give back to his birthplace, Dr. Gonzalez was invited as an International County/City Management Association (ICMA) volunteer consultant for USAID’s SURGE Project.
Dr. Gonzalez, Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration and Chair of Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Program, shared San Francisco Bay Area urban development best practices with the participants and led them in an immersive city redesign activity. The more than 100 attendees included city planners, architects, environmental officers, engineers, as well as urban studies professors and students from Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Tagbilaran — three rapidly growing Philippine cities.
City officials and community leaders were excited about the opportunity to have USAID through Dr. Gonzalez guide their public officials and citizens in brainstorming and strategizing competitive, resilient, and inclusive revitalization plans. Architect Niño Guidaben expressed excitement over the urban designs created during the workshop: “These are doable and implementable urban designs that are worth presenting to city officials for their consideration.”
“It is our duty as citizens of a wealthy country to share our knowledge and expertise to help developing economies become prosperous and self-sufficient.”
Dr. Gonzalez seeks to shift global attention and action from big cities to the development of small cities. In the spirit of this mission, the USAID-ICMA’s SURGE Project in the Philippines is helping to spread wealth and prosperity from Metro Manila and other primary cities to secondary and tertiary cities, like Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Tagbilaran. SURGE assists cities and adjacent areas to plan effectively, guarantee basic public services, reduce business transaction costs, promote competitiveness, support sustainable development, and reduce disaster and climate change risks while ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth.
Discussing the challenges and smart solutions in transforming cities into resilient, competitive, inclusive and sustainable urban centers, Dr. Gonzalez said: “By being resilient, cities are ready to face challenges; by being competitive, cities are able to grab opportunities; and by being inclusive, cities are for everyone and by everyone.”
In the last two years, as a USAID consultant, Dr. Gonzalez has also provided his urban development guidance and expertise in China and Tanzania. He adds, “It is our duty as citizens of a wealthy country to share our knowledge and expertise to help developing economies become prosperous and self-sufficient.”
GGU is committed to sustaining what USAID and ICMA have started in the Philippines, as well as China and Tanzania, through its upcoming Urban Innovations concentration in the EMPA Program, which has recently been named among the Best Online MPA Programs by onlinemasters.com.
Request information about the EMPA degree at Golden Gate University.