July 19, 2019

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK CITY—The Philippines presented its second Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before the United Nations this week during the 2019 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in New York City.

The 2019 HLPF, convened by the UN Economic and Social Council, conducted a review of SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13, 16, and 17.

The Philippines, represented by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, was one of 47 countries to present their Voluntary National Reviews this year.

First, on Quality Education, or SDG 4, Pernia reported that the Philippines achieved a near-universal primary enrolment rate of 94.2 percent in 2017. The past two years have also seen substantial increases in completion rates for primary and secondary education by more than 8 and 10 percentage points, respectively.

According to Pernia, the Philippines also showed progress in terms of improving access to education for vulnerable groups. This was the result of the institutionalization of key education inclusion programs as well as NGO-led initiatives like Teach for the Philippines that train and deploy teachers to public schools in far-flung areas.

Under SDG 8, or Decent Work and Economic Growth, the NEDA Secretary reported that the country remains one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with a recorded GDP growth rate of 6.2 percent in 2018. National unemployment rate also declined to 5.3 percent in 2018, the lowest recorded in almost 15 years.

Under SDG 10, Pernia noted key reforms that have been instrumental in ensuring reduced inequality in the country. Besides the Conditional Cash Transfer Program of the government, he highlighted the recent passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, which expands maternity leave benefits from 60 to 105 days, and thus should lower the gap between male and female labor force participation.

He likewise noted that the increase in household income per capita among the bottom 40 percent of the Filipino population was larger at 28 percent compared to 21 percent for the entire population. Also, as a response to the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, several private companies like Lamoiyan Corporation now hire persons with disability.

On Climate Action, or SDG 13, Pernia mentioned that while the Philippines ranks third in the world as most vulnerable to hazards, data show a reduction in persons directly affected by disasters—from 846,000 in 2015 to 682,000 in 2018. He highlighted government-academe partnerships for climate action initiatives such as Project NOAH.

On Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, or SDG 16, Pernia drew attention to the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which was the result of cumulative initiatives aimed at addressing the long-standing conflict in Mindanao. He also mentioned that the Philippine Identification System, which should help facilitate marginalized sectors’ access to government assistance, is now under implementation.

“While we have achieved much, we still need the participation of civil society, the business sector, the academe, and most especially, international development partners. In fact, it is only through strong global partnerships (SDG 17) that we can truly achieve Agenda 2030,” he said.

Pernia also said developed countries should lead the way in advancing technology to address climate change, and in providing assistance to less developed ones, “moreover, we need more platforms for knowledge-sharing with our fellow developing countries, through stronger South-South cooperation.”

“The Philippines’ second VNR emphasizes a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. We all should do our share to make sure that no one is left behind and to realize the aspiration of Filipinos for a life that is comfortable, peaceful and secure,” he added.


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