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Arnel Casanova of BCDA on Clark Green City, the first Smart City in the Philippines

Arnel Casanova of BCDA on Clark Green City

Sitting in between two of the Philippines mountain regions, Clark is the ideal location for building first smart city in the country.  The entire Clark Green City is a 9,450-hectare master planned property within the Clark Special Economic Zone in the province of Tarlac, Philippines.

At full development, Clark Green City will have some 1.12 million residents, 800,000 workers and contribute a gross output of approximately P1.57 trillion per year to the national economy or roughly 4 percent of the county’s GDP.

Airports, Seaports, and Toll Ways are already directed towards Clark, so once the smart city is fully developed it will be a fully functioning and bustling city.

During the recent EmTech Asia conference, OpenGov ran into Arnel Paciano Casanova, President and CEO, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, who works directly under the President of the Philippines. His organisation deals with the planning and construction of Clark Green City.

“This is Clark Green City, previously an army camp, which will turn into a new business centre for the country,” said Mr. Casanova, “The entire city of Clark encompasses 6,500 hectares of land, roughly the size of Manila. The property that we are building upon is 3,500 hectares of land, half of the size of Manila.”  

clark green city airport

A New Metropolis and International Hub

Only budget airlines fly to the airport based in Clark Green City, yet it is the airport with the most land area.  This airport will soon be transformed into one of the region's new international hubs. A toll way connects Clark to the capital of Manila, but soon, Clark will transform into a main entryway for travellers.              

The reason for developing such a city is because of the need to build a prime centre for business, in a sustainable region of the country.

“We need a new city, bigger than Manhattan, sitting in a stable part of the Philippines,” said Mr. Casanova, “Clark will burst onto the scene as a new metropolitan destination the region.”

As the Philippines economy is outperforming much of the region this year, many are starting to invest more time and money into the market of nearly 98.5 million people. With this, the Clark Green City developments will be a trademark for the future of the country of the Philippines.

However, ten percent of the country’s GDP is dependent on agriculture, so it is necessary to incorporate this element into the construction of the new city.

“We held an international design competition for master planning and architectural firms. The winner for the competition came up with the conceptual plan for Clark,” said Mr. Casanova, “The idea is that this is a Green City, almost like a city right in the middle of a farm because this is one of the largest agricultural plains in the region.”

Disaster Recovery and Protection against Natural Disasters

The location of Clark is ideal because it is effectively protected from many natural disasters and retrieves a steady water supply into the city. There is no fault line and the elevation is one of the highest points in central Luzon, which is why the Americans chose to locate their base there.

“For disaster resiliency, because Clark sits in the middle of two mountain ranges, it is protected from many natural disasters which the Philippines is prone to,” said Mr. Casanova, “If a super typhoon comes in from the Pacific, it is protected from rain and wind. If a natural disaster come from the west Philippines side and south china sea, the other mountain range protects it.”

However safe that Clark may seem, BCDA has already planned to put disaster resiliency and strategy mechanisms in place. This is to ensure that if the city’s infrastructure fails, business will be able to continue to run smooth.

“If anything happens, the capital government and business will continue to respond. The response time will be faster and the movement of goods will still continue to come in,” Mr. Casanova told us, “This is the safest place for a city to be, also for data centres and advanced technology infrastructure.”

Collaborating to roll out the First Phase of the Clark Green City Project

BCDA has full control of the property as they work directly under the office of the President. This allows for the organisation to have efficient turn-around time in decision making. They are also working with the Public Works Ministry, which have committed to building the roads for Clark.

In an effort to build Clark as a research and innovation epicentre, the BCDA declared the development of two new campuses for the Technological University of the Philippines and the University of the Philippines. Mr. Casanova told us that they are also looking for international universities to host a campus within the confines of Clark.

Last month, BCDA signed the first contract to build the first phase of the project, which is 1,300 hectares of property. It is a mixed industrial, commercial and institutional agreement.

“We have signed the joint venture agreement with our private township development partner. We are already working out the detailed master plan for the first phase of the project,” stated Mr. Casanova, “We are aiming to team up with overseas infrastructure companies for their expertise. Looking at Japan, Singapore, and Europe, for new partners for this project.”

Ground has already been broken at Clark and the detailed master plan is expected to be completed within 9 months time. By next year, the internal site development will occur and the Clark Green City project will be well underway. 

BCDA also confirmed an MoU with Swedish government and private firms. This paves the way for future collaborative opportunities in sustainable urbanisation, best practices in urban development, and providing business solution services to build what they imagine Clark Green City to be. 

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