NEW YORK CITY –The Philippines reaffirmed its commitments to address the multidimensional aspects of poverty, to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to protect the rights of migrants, during the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last September 18-23 in New York City.

During the high-level side event on “measuring and tackling poverty in all its dimensions” held on September 22, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia shared the importance of tackling poverty with a multidimensional, transdisciplinary approach. He cited that the inclusion of a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in the last Philippine Development Plan paved the way for accelerated poverty reduction initiatives like the conditional cash transfer program and many wide-ranging governance reforms.

Consequently, Pernia affirmed that addressing multidimensional poverty to attain poverty- and inequality-reducing economic growth will thus be integrated in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

“The main strategy in the upcoming PDP is to rebalance growth and development opportunities across regions, sectors, and socioeconomic groups in the country,” he said.

“This will be key to addressing multidimensional poverty as it means more economic opportunities for marginalized socioeconomic groups,” Pernia added.

In line with this, he also called to bring economic growth to outlying lagging regions where the rural poor reside. He said that stimulating economic activity in the regions can be achieved by developing human capital and physical infrastructure, and scaling up agriculture production through crop diversification.

Still on inclusivity, the NEDA Director-General, in his keynote speech during the First Ministerial Meeting of the Like-Minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries on September 23, stated that escaping the so-called middle income trap is about achieving a truly and authentically inclusive growth. “Given the complexity of the development process, achieving genuinely inclusive growth requires a range of policy reforms, some of which are politically difficult and costly to implement, and thus require both leadership and cooperation,” he said. “These include game-changing structural and governance reforms that address the unresponsiveness of critical institutions, weaknesses in human capital, limited room and capacity for innovation, reclusive business environment, and weak financial systems, among others.” Pernia added.

Meanwhile, consistent with inclusivity, Pernia also called for the protection of migrants’ rights through strengthening anti-human trafficking laws, lowering remittance costs, and providing reintegration support to returning migrants. He delivered his statement during the high-level segment to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Right to Development on September 22.

“We would like to call particular attention to migrants as they are one of the most vulnerable groups that needs empowerment,” the Cabinet official said. Pernia said that there are 10 million permanent and temporary Filipino migrants worldwide who contribute more than US$ 25 billion to the Philippine economy annually.
The right to development, which was adopted by the UN in 1986, entitles everyone the right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development. “This right must thus be at the core of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and all other internationally agreed development goals. This will ensure the realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,” he added.

Furthermore, Pernia shared the country’s recent El Niño experience, to which government was able to properly respond by way of timely importation of rice, price freezes, and provision of production support to affected farmers, fisherfolk, and vulnerable workers.

Nonetheless, considering the country’s vulnerability to extreme climate events, he said that government must strengthen its capacities for disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation.

Finally, Pernia reaffirmed the Philippine’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, and shared the country’s latest initiatives in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We are institutionalizing the SDGs through creating special committees to oversee SDG-related work within the Philippine government. Second, we are including the SDGs in the yearly Budget Priorities Framework. Third, we see to it that the SDGs are factored into our long-term vision, medium-term development plan, and our sectoral plans. And fourth, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has already included the SDGs in the Philippine Statistical Development Program for progress monitoring and data generation,” he said.

Pernia added that the PSA is developing an MPI that integrates the social, political, and environmental facets of poverty with the economic dimension.
“Through these various efforts, we have integrated the SDGs into our national and local priorities, while making sure that they complement the set of medium and long-term goals for our country toward realizing our people’s aspirations,” he said.