The Philippines must reorient its economic strategy into one that uses an integrated approach toward sustaining development while mitigating the risk of climate change, an economist from the United Nations urged the country’s socioeconomic planners, pointing to the targets laid out in a new UN development agenda.
“Economic development, as hard as it is to achieve, is not sufficient to well being. It can lead to very high and even growing inequalities, which is what happened in many parts of the world. But It can also lead to great environmental damage,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), said during a press briefing In Manila on Monday.
Sachs stressed that the Philippines has all the hazards in terms of environmental damage by being in the frontline of global climate change.
“The Philippines unfortunately has it all. Every kind of hazard you can think about, you got it. We don’t want it to get worse,” he said.
To prevent this from happening, the Philippines should adopt more forward-thinking economic policy that will be necessary to achieve the new UN agenda called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sachs said.
SDGs are a set of goals covering social, economic and environmental issues laid out by the UN for states and international bodies to use in planning and implementing development policy for the next 15 years.
If all members states agree on the SDG draft this September, the set goals would be applied by January 2016, with 2030 being the deadline for their attainment.
“SDGs are universal goals that apply to rich countries, as well as to poor countries. They call every country to stop the dominant pattern of focusing only on the economic bottomline and call on us to focus on economic, social and environmental bottomline in a holistic manner,” Sachs explained.
These goals succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which are expiring at the end of this year. SDGs are meant to address critical development challenges such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, combating climate change and improving the state of global health and education.
SDGs consist of 17 proposed goals namely: end poverty in all its forms everywhere; end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages; ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all; build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation; reduce inequality within and among countries; make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss;
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
NEDA urges leaders to commit to SDGs
The Philippines socioeconomic planning body, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) called on the government and private sector leaders to commit to the SDGs as specified in the UN agenda.
“Political will must be mustered. That’s easier said than done but we need to get our leaders more accountable to these development goals,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Balisacan, who is also the NEDA director general, said the country has to work on areas such as low investment in research and development (R&D) and disaster preparedness.
“This country has a history of low investment and not investing well in R&D and innovation . . . I think that’s one that we should change the soonest, especially that the sustainable solution should be of local content,” he said.
“We need to invest heavily into disaster risk management, especially in community resiliency. Our country is so vulnerable to many shocks, and natural disasters are an issue that requires a lot of attention from us,” he added.