CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – This city and four other urbanized areas in Mindanao have qualified for this year’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC), an environmental initiative organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

In an announcement Thursday, WWF said the other selected cities are Davao, Dipolog, Tagum, and Zamboanga.

Joining the challenge for the first time are Baguio, Legazpi, Ormoc, San Fernando in La Union, and Vigan.

The addition of five Philippine cities to the OPCC roster is a welcome sign of a more sustainable future, Imee Bellen, WWF-Philippines One Planet Cities Project manager, said.

“Also, we are grateful to the 11 recurring city participants that chose to continue their engagement as this means that OPCC provides greater encouragement to strengthen their commitments. We honor what these cities have achieved, and we look forward to working with them over the next two years,” Bellen said.

Participating cities, WWF said, will be submitting reports detailing their respective emissions, as well as their plans and goals for climate action in their localities.

“These plans will be checked by a panel of experts against a methodology derived from the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius,” the organization said.

The submitted documents by the contenders will then undergo an assessment framework to evaluate the city’s climate targets and their alignment with the Paris Agreement.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 parties in 2015 and entered into force in November 2016.

Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

WWF said the participants will also receive guidance on the most effective actions to help them along this “decarbonization” pathway towards net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Hosted by WWF, the OPCC celebrates measures taken by cities across the globe toward combating climate change and reducing their carbon footprint, in order to keep global warming within the 1.5-degree-Celsius limit.

Almost 600 cities from 53 countries have participated in the OPCC over the past ten years.

Last year, Batangas City was hailed as the country winner for the Philippines.

Santa Rosa was the country winner in 2016, while Pasig City took the top spot in 2018.

Over the next two years, WWF-Philippines said it will work closely with participating cities to help them analyze their climate action plans and identify solutions to meet their mitigation and adaptation targets. (PNA)