The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is emphasizing on the need for rural transformation to address the multidimensional aspects of poverty in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and protecting the rights of migrants.
This is what Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia shared during the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 18 to 23 in New York City.
Pernia, who is also the NEDA director general, cited the inclusion of a Multidimensional Poverty Index 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 reduction and inclusive economic growth will 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.
He called for bringing economic growth to outlying regions where the poor reside.
Stimulating economic activity in the regions can be achieved by developing human capital and physical infrastructure, and scaling up agriculture production through crop diversification.
In a press chat on Friday, Pernia said crop diversification can be optimized by geotagging or labeling different areas suitable for different crops.
“For example certain areas are suited for rice, others are for corn, cacaos, and other types of fruits,” he told reporters.
The problem is that the Philipppines was fixated on growing rice and give less emphasis to other cops which are of higher value.
“And given that we still have a lot of agricultural land, a great portion of these lands are not suited for rice. We should really go on crop diversification,” he said.
During a high-level segment at UNGA, Pernia called for the protection of migrants’ rights by strengthening anti-human trafficking laws, lowering remittance costs, and providing reintegration support to returning migrants.
“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.
There are 10 million permanent and temporary Filipino migrants worldwide who contribute more than $25 billion to the Philippine economy annually.
“The solution might be rural transformation so that rural migrants do not leave as much. Transforming rural areas can be a destination to rural migrants as well as destination even for refugees,” he said.
Pernia reaffirmed the country’s latest initiatives in implementing the SDGs.
Last year, 17 SDGs were adopted by members of the United Nations as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The goals aimed to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.
The SDGs are: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.
“We are institutionalizing the SDGs through creating special committees to oversee SDG-related work within the Philippine government,” he said.
The government is including the SDGs in the yearly Budget Priorities Framework. “… We see to it that the SDGs are factored into our long-term vision, medium-term development plan, and our sectoral plans.”
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has already included the SDGs in the Philippine Statistical Development Program for progress monitoring and data generation, Pernia noted.
The PSA is developing a poverty index 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.