Opening Message
Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua
Launch of 2020 Human Development Report
January 22, 2021


UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, our partners from UNDP, colleagues in NEDA and the government, other development partners, and stakeholders, a pleasant morning!

The 2020 HDR (Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene)

We congratulate UNDP for the launch of the 2020 Human Development Report. Thank you for recognizing the significant human capital gains we have all worked on. The Report also tackles crucial issues on natural disasters and sustainable development and emphasizes how our actions shape our planet and affect inequalities in society. We value the Report’s endorsement of empowering people to enhance equity, foster innovation, and instill a sense of stewardship of nature as these are all consistent with our development objectives.

All of these will help us with insights on the future directions for our country and our people as we rebuild resiliently and head into the new and better normal with hope and optimism.

Human Development and Impacts of COVID-19

2020 was a trying time for the world, and the Philippines was not an exception. We started the previous year in a strong position: in 2018 we have already lifted six million people out of poverty, four years ahead of our 2022 target. We were also on track to becoming an upper middle-income economy in 2020 prior to COVID. Our Human Development Index has also been steadily increasing and we have already joined the category of high-level HDI.

Moreover, we have established the Subcommittee on Sustainable Development Goals under the Development Budget Coordination Committee of the NEDA Board. This would help us systematically empower Filipinos in achieving their aspirations while relaxing pressures on the planet.

However, several natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic halted our human development momentum and disrupted our economic growth trajectory.

Despite having one of the longest lockdown periods, we were able to prevent widespread infection and improve our health system capacity. These actions potentially saved tens of thousands of lives.

But these wins were not without trade-offs: 75 percent of our economy, and even our society was effectively shut down. This caused significant losses to jobs, livelihood, and businesses. It also disrupted education and limited social interactions between individuals, families, and communities.

Fortunately, the economic, social, and institutional reforms the government had previously undertaken helped the government mobilize resources quickly and cushion the blow of the pandemic, especially to the most vulnerable populations.

A Healthy and Resilient Philippines

Moreover, we saw that with an improved health system capacity and with people’s cooperation in adhering to the minimum public health and safety standards, we have been able to safely open the economy.

With this, we have seen positive economic developments as early as the third quarter of 2020. We recorded a smaller GDP contraction of 11.5 percent as compared to 16.9 percent in the second quarter or an eight percent quarter-on-quarter growth. Labor market indicators also showed signs of big improvement as  economic activities gradually and safely resumed.

But this is not enough. This year, our focus is to carefully manage risks and address our public health needs while putting in place policies and programs that will spur economic activities.

This is so we can care more for those who have lost their jobs or who have no income sources. We need to ensure that they will have the means to meet the basic needs of their families, to protect their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and to build capabilities for realizing their potentials.

Keeping these in mind, the directive now and for the next two years is a whole-of-nation approach to focus on our recovery and achieve a healthy and resilient Philippines. Together, we will chart a path towards a change that enables a strong economy while ensuring ecological integrity and social development.

Conclusion: Launch of Updated PDP 2017-2022

As implied in the 2020 HDR, Filipinos’ participation on such initiatives can only be expected if they have the required opportunities and capabilities. Therefore, it is important that we continually pursue inclusive health care, education, and social protection programs that will empower individuals and communities.

We will soon be sharing with you the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which would show our priorities for the next two years, including enhancing the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, improving the quality of instruction in education, upskilling the workforce, and institutionalizing the Social Protection Floor.

The Plan will also include other reforms and strategies we will undertake to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and help every Filipino achieve the long-term vision of a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay by 2040.

Again, congratulations on the launch of the 2020 Human Development Report. May we all stay healthy and safe. Thank you!

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