Climate Change expert promotes Sponge City Design to solve urban flooding

Leading climate change expert Dr. Jay Gonzalez III promotes the Sponge City Design for Cagayan de Oro and other cities who are plagued with urban flooding. Dr. Gonzalez said without mitigation, the increasing rainfall volume and flood issues will affect planting and harvesting including sewage problem making the cities susceptible to high danger.

Dr. Gonzalez is Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at the Ageno School of Business of Golden Gate University (GGU) in San Francisco, California. He chairs the Department of Public Administration and founder of their Urban Innovations Program. As a practitioner, Dr. Gonzalez has worked as Governance, Urban Development, and Solid Waste Management Specialist for the Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity Project (Philippines) and the Enabling Growth through Investment and Enterprise Program (Tanzania).

Dr. Jay takes a look at the water absorption capacity of Cagayan de Oro and San Francisco

The Sponge City Design is a principle based on a sponge that has the capability to absorb and store water. It absorbs water during heavy rain and can be used during times of drought or whenever needed.

Recycled water used for cleaning and watering the plants in San Francisco

Dr. Gonzalez suggested a list of policy interventions that Cagayan de Oro and other cities may adapt just like the ones in San Francisco, California where he is based.

These are:

    1. No reclamation, building height and density restrictions
    2. Water conservation policy
    3. Recycled water ordinance
    4. Big Sponge: Golden Gate Park
    5. Small sponge: Neighbourhood forests and gardens
    6. POPOS-Privately Owned Public Open Spaces
    7. Low-impact stormwater design
    8. LEED (Green Standards)
    9. Landscaping standards
    10. Wasteful water use policies

The challenges of extreme weather has led San Francisco City to innovate and develop on the concept of storm water as a resource and not a waste product. Using permeable surfaces in their design to improve water absorption and using vegetated roofs and green walls to slow run off and reduce flooding.

Dr. Gonzalez also encouraged the Town-Gown Partnership where the community and the academe will help solve community issues together.

The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines recently launched the Master in Public Sector Innovations (MPSI), an Urban Development Program (UDLP) supported by the United States Agency for International Development-Strength Urban Resiliency for Growth and Equity (USAID-SURGE), where capstone concept proposals of the students bring a great potential for public sector innovation in the city and the region.

“USTP’s UDLP IGIS-MPSI will help in the practice of inclusive, resilient and competitive urban development,” Dr. Gonzalez emphasized.

The Master in Public Sector Innovations (MPSI) is the latest course offering of USTP CDO

Dr. Gonzalez hosted the virtual public e-lecture last June 9 via Zoom and talked about the City of San Francisco’s Sponge Design for Climate Change and Disaster Resilience: Lessons for Cagayan de Oro and other Philippine Cities. The e-lecture was the highlight of the launching of the MPSI program.

Click the link to view the virtual lecture:


By PJ V. dela Peña, USTP System Strategic Communication Office

Follow us:

Contact us:
+63(88)857-1738 local 122
[email protected]