MANILA—ASEAN members need to go beyond commerce and financial assistance to address factors that impede the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as post-2015 development priorities, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, during his opening speech at the ASEAN Regional Assessment Workshop on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Achievement and Post-2015 Development Priorities, held on April 14-15, 2015 in Pasig City, urged ASEAN members to look at important areas for collaboration.

“Given our respective resources and experiences, we are encouraged to make our discussions for strategic collaboration go beyond commerce and financial assistance. The areas we may consider revisiting include regional disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), social protection, technology access and transfer, data generation and management, and capacity building of local institutions,” he said.

On DRRM, Balisacan emphasized that disasters significantly dampen the intended impact of development efforts. Thus, he proposed to review the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response and to strengthen the points of collaboration among ASEAN member states.

Balisacan also pushed for the integration of lessons learned from recent phenomena like Typhoon Haiyan into country and regional strategies for disaster resilience. He said that the ASEAN Plan of Action for strengthening peace and social protection also needs to be finalized and implemented. In the ensuing discussions, ASEAN members pointed out the need for ASEAN to respond to disasters as one community.

“Aside from being an instrument that helps our citizens in managing shocks from disasters, this initiative is also crucial given the increasing interaction of our communities through in-migration and the changes our citizens have to go through during the early stages of the ASEAN integration,” he said.

Balisacan also underscored the need to for support and regional collaborations to address data limitations, which hamper strategic development planning and programming.

“It is important to invest in good quality and up-to-date data and improve our knowledge management technologies and capacities so we can prepare sound, evidence-based plans and policies post-2015,” he said.

Furthermore, he said that development initiatives must also be in tune with the nuances of localities to ensure responsiveness to local needs.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting inclusive development across population growth and geographic areas. To this end, we must work together in enhancing the capacities of our local institutions for crafting and implementing effective development plans,” said Balisacan.

The Assessment Workshop was conducted to review ASEAN Member States’ MDG achievements, and identify the remaining and emerging development and poverty-related challenges post-2015. Following the identification of challenges, areas and modes of potential regional support and collaboration within and among ASEAN sectoral bodies were identified. It was also held to review the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their relevance to post-2015 development priorities in the ASEAN region.

The SDGs are proposed to have 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by the year 2030. Last year, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution that opened an opportunity for the integration of the SDGs into the post-2015 agenda, both of which will be finalized at the UNGA in September of this year.