EPA 21

Chapter I: Sustainable Development in the Philippine Context

1.1. A Retrospect: Evolution of SD as a Concept

The concept of sustainable development (SD) has its early beginnings in the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm where the alarming state of the environment first received global attention. Widespread concern over the health impacts of environmental deterioration was prominent in the discussions.

At that time, the ill effects of pollution and massive depletion of natural resources resulting from large-scale economic expansion and industrialization, took the center stage. This event could have been precipitated by the publication of “Limits to Growth” by Meadows, et. al. which painted a dire scenario for man’s future prospects for development and very survival, given patterns of environmental decay around the world.

The Stockholm Conference should have instilled greater awareness of the threats of  environmental degradation but sadly, it hardly made waves in actually arresting the high rates of environmental misuse and abuse across the globe. Awareness and acceptance of the disturbing reality did not lead to action commensurate to the problem.

More than a decade after that conference, the world was in no better shape as environmental degradation continued to escalate, threatening not only human health but undermining the development prospects of nations around the globe. Ironically, the momentum of development has conceivably overstepped the urgency of caring for the environment on which its future prospects ultimate depend.

In response to this alarming situation, the United Nations created in 1984 the Brundtland Commission also known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) to examine the links between environment and development and find ways to bridge these two seemingly opposing forces. In 1987, the Commission published its report entitled “Our Common Future” where the notion of sustainable development was introduced. It was defined in general terms as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of  future generations to meet their own needs”. As it turned out, the book transcended environment and development concerns but embraced the whole spectrum of  development issues confronting countries all over. It put forward the idea that the intricate web of development challenges can only be addressed through a recognition of the interconnectedness and inextricable links of the different dimensions of development and the different peoples around the world.

Countries welcomed the idea of sustainable development with great enthusiasm and hope, at a time when pervasive poverty, widespread social unrest and moral degeneration were realities that existed side by side with unprecedented economic growth and while quality of life was increasingly being impaired by the health impacts of environmental degradation.

Significant economic success has been achieved in many countries but development by and large failed a lot of people in a lot of respects. We see opulence in the midst of increasing despondence and desperation wrought by acute poverty and injustice. Conventional development has failed to secure for everyone the fundamental right to a decent standard of living.

Sustainable development brought with it the promise of a new kind of development, and more significantly, prospects of a different tomorrow for the whole world. Sustainable development breathed optimism and hope for meaningful change.

In 1992, building on the report of the Brundtland Commission, the United Nations launched an agenda for change, known as the Agenda 21, at the Earth Summit or UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the same time, a UN Commission on Sustainable Development was created to chart the course of sustainable development at the global level.

The Philippines was one of the first countries that swiftly responded to the calls made at the Earth Summit. Three months after the Summit, the government established the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to oversee the implementation of the country’s Agenda 21 commitments and formulate policies and programs that are supportive of sustainable development.

In fulfillment of its mandate, the PCSD coordinated the formulation, through a consensus building process, of a national agenda and blueprint for sustainable development now known as Philippine Agenda 21 (PA 21).

Sustainable development may mean different things to different people. Too often, it has been easy to mistake the sustainable development movement for something other than what it really is. Rather than being an inherent or conscious misunderstanding of the concept, the differences in the view of what sustainable development means is borne out of the differences in the development context that each country/locality or individual finds it/himself in.

There have been a number of myths surrounding efforts to advance sustainable development in the Philippines. The process of generating a full understanding and advocacy of sustainable development would require dispelling these various myths. In a variety of ways, some people have been missing the real point about SD.

1.2 Missing the Point: Myths about Sustainable Development

Myth 1: Sustainable development just means environmentally responsive development, plain and simple.

Sustainable development is often associated with environmental protection. At the annual sessions of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, this is evidenced by the lopsided representation of delegates, often dominated by environment ministers.

Many national sustainable development strategies, particularly in industrialized countries are essentially “green plans”. In a paper published by the UNDP in 1997, it has been observed that except for some notable exceptions, sustainable development strategies in industrialized countries are still mostly environmental in their focus.

There is perhaps nothing that is utterly wrong in this perspective. For modern and advanced countries that have reached the pinnacle of economic and social progress, sustainable development may be rightfully viewed as a matter of the environment. Environment might indeed be the only ” missing link” in their development efforts with their populace already receiving their fair share of the benefits of economic and social development. To the extent that international discourse on SD is dominated by these countries, environment inevitably comes out to be at the center of the SD agenda.

The emphasis on environmental aspects can likewise be illumined by the fact that sustainable development was brought to worldwide prominence by a body created by the United Nations to explore the linkages between environment and development. It was the World Commission on Environment and Development which advanced the notion of sustainable development. Understandably so, sustainable development is typically equated with environmentally responsive development. Another view is that sustainable development probably emerged as an ‘antidote’ to the extreme ecocentric or purist views of environmentalists which emerged in the 1970s. These views propagated the idea that environment would need to be preserved at their pristine state and that development was proving to be an antithesis to environment preservation. The proponents of this perspective argues that environment must be protected at all costs. The reality of massive poverty in many places around the world, however, makes the argument quite indefensible if not incomprehensible. Sustainable development offered the compromise solution. Given the foregoing, the environmental dimension will necessarily be, for many people and countries, a convenient jump-off point for sustainable development discussions.

The environment effectively brings out the interrelated nature of development decisions and highlights the need for integrated decision-making. Environmental issues are intertwined with many development issues and are intricately woven with the poverty situation in the country. With environment transcending territorial boundaries, it illustrates the shared and collective responsibility of all countries in pursuing sustainable development not only at the global level but also in supporting national SD efforts.

The environment also brings out the importance of the systems perspective on development, that everything has a cause and effect. Therefore, effective solutions are drawn not by merely addressing effects, a propensity in traditional development approaches, but by looking at the root causes of development problems.

People can easily identify with environment issues considering its direct impact on people’s health and their prospects for livelihood. The environment is clearly an important dimension of sustainable development, albeit not the only one.

However, viewed from a strictly environmental point of view, sustainable development often loses its appeal among those who consider meeting more urgent basic needs as the more primordial concern of development. Considering the heavy expenditures needed to correct environmental ills of the past, focus on environment is open to question by those who direly need resources just to survive. Often, environmental issues are just symptomatic of deeper, larger development problems that are not too obvious. It may be a side-effect of economic marginalization, social unrest and political inequities. For a developing country like the Philippines, it may therefore be grossly misguided to equate sustainable development with environment because to this day the development challenges that country faces are far more complex and multifaceted. The country is at a stage where rights to even the most basic economic and social benefits of development have not been secured for all its citizens. While it would be desirable to get environmental stewardship intrinsic to the Filipino psyche, the reality is that for a lot of people, the quest for development is still a matter of filling up their stomachs, having roofs over their heads and getting safe water to drink. Beyond that, there are other dimensions as well that are considered of real importance such as governance, culture, moral and spiritual sensitivities and the Filipinos’ unique aspirations.

Myth 2: Sustainable Development is but a set of new, specialized programs or projects.

The practice of ‘localizing’ practically all development initiatives following devolution and decentralization efforts and a budgeting system that is driven by programs and projects have probably misled people into thinking that sustainable development is yet another program or project. This is reinforced by the fact that for every international conference, there is a tendency to simplify implementation by projectizing reform initiatives, the government simply comes up with new additional programs that are brought down to the local level. Hence, as efforts went underway for localizing PA 21, many local stakeholders had a project view of sustainable development.

Viewed as a program, institutions operating within the scheme of budget ceilings, clamored for additional resources to finance new activities when asked to support sustainable development efforts. Hence, when sizeable budget appropriations were not forthcoming, support for PA 21 implementation suffered a major setback. It was seen as yet another burden that overextends already limited human resources in all governance levels. But the nature of the reforms required by sustainable development goes beyond adding new projects that call for incremental funding and other resources. Overall, embracing sustainable development would involve organizational development and reform which demands leadership and political will more than substantial infusion of incremental financial resources. If the Philippines will actually embrace SD as its governing development paradigm, the whole government budget would represent financing for sustainable development. “SD interventions should not be separate and distinct from what government agencies, for instance, would normally do. The ideal situation would be that everything an agency does, without any exception, should be contributory to and in the spirit of sustainable development. SD simply changes the nature and character of the development programs and the ways of doing them. It does not necessarily call for a new, additional set of development activities. Many of the new activities could be in the form of advocacy and knowledge enhancing initiatives which may not require huge budgets.

The use of the phrase implementing sustainable development may also have contributed to a misunderstanding of what sustainable development actually is. It has given the impression that sustainable development is a program that is implemented as part of a wider development effort.

Development and for that matter, sustainable development is not something that is implemented. It is a state or a process that we should strive for, seek or pursue.

Myth 3: Sustainable Development is an entirely new development idea.

As the original PA 21 emphasized, the elements of sustainable development have been practiced by earlier generations of Filipinos but was somehow lost in the subsequent generations’ aggressive pursuit of industrialization and modernization. Our ancestors have observed principles, values and traditions that are consistent with the essence sustainable development, such as respect for nature as an inseparable aspect of life, spirit of sharing with and caring for fellowmen, a great sense of community as evident in tribal communities, strong moral and spiritual beliefs, etc.

Today, many of the indigenous cultural groups continue to apply the sustainable practices and principles that they have observed for hundreds or thousands of years. Rather than being an entirely new and innovative view of development, embracing sustainable development is to a great extent bringing Filipinos back to the some of the positive values and traditions that have shaped early Philippine society. It is actually a sense of what matters to us as a people in our pursuit of development.

One trailblazing aspect of sustainable development is in the process of governance and decision-making required by the inextricable links between and among the different dimensions of development. The problem with sustainable development being viewed as a completely new idea is that some development practitioners may postpone effort to support it while they wait for a comprehensive guide to do it, acting on the pretext that there is no prior established knowledge about it. It comes across as a virtual unknown, hence, there could be reluctance in readily adopting the idea.

Myth 4: Sustainable Development is primarily geared towards meeting Philippine commitments in international conferences and agreements such as the Earth Summit.

Since the 1992 Earth Summit, sustainable development has been placed at the forefront of development discussions in the Philippines. Inadvertently, however, advocacy strategies might have put across an impression that sustainable development is being pursued for the sole purpose of meeting international commitments. Hence, it was quite difficult for a majority of stakeholders to identify with sustainable development because international agreements and commitments can be far too divorced from their daily struggles.

While global citizenship is an intrinsic component of SD, it should not be viewed as the raison d’être for pursuing SD in the Philippines. The pursuit of sustainable development should not be couched on substantiating Philippine participation in international conferences and agreements but should be primarily motivated by our inherent desire to secure a better life for Filipinos. For someone who even has to struggle just to put a decent meal on the table, meeting Philippine commitment in international conferences may not be the most convincing argument for joining the SD bandwagon.

1.3 Getting the Point: Uncovering the Essence of Sustainable Development

Since 1987 when the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development introduced the notion of sustainable development, it has taken on a lot of meanings. This is to be expected because sustainable development is a normative concept and is thus context based. The fact that countries differ in their development context has animated global and national discourse on what sustainable development is all about. Discussions have advanced from purely theoretical and cerebral exercise to the practical underpinnings of sustainable development. Nonetheless, there seems to be a point of consensus, which is emphasized in the Philippine Agenda 21, that sustainable development must be rooted in the national context.

Given the numerous perspectives on SD, it could be difficult and perhaps not advisable to come up with a universally applicable or acceptable definition of sustainable development. When a country just “imports” another country’s definition, without adapting it to its own peculiar situation, then the misconceptions arise.

The differences in the concept of sustainable development across countries suggest the diversity of the development reality that countries find themselves in. While the meaning of sustainable development emanates from global discussions, it must be rooted in the context of Philippine reality and aspirations. The framers of the Philippine Agenda 21 came up with a definition of sustainable development that is uniquely suited to the development reality in the Philippines.

The essence of sustainable development has been defined in PA 21 as the “harmonious integration of a sound and viable economy, responsible governance, social cohesion and harmony and ecological integrity to ensure that development is a life-enhancing process. The ultimate aim of development is human development now and through future generations”. This definition is very appealing in its broadness and depth but has unfortunately come across as too academic, providing little practical guidance.

The real essence of sustainable development lies in the breath of its scope and in its fundamental nature as a paradigm, philosophy and approach. Sustainable development is a broader and more holistic view of development.

Multidimensional development

Sustainable development is not some conceptually idea as some people are wont to assume. It is principally a broadening of the way we see development. To a great extent, the concept of development has gone beyond the traditional standpoint of economic development. As countries achieved high economic growth rates amidst social turmoil or rising social ills, the importance of the social dimensions figured in development efforts. Then in the 1970s, widespread environmental degradation begun to undermine growth prospects and human health. Subsequently, environment was seen as another important dimension that need to go into the development equation. In the more recent times, good governance was seen as another crucial factor in development process. Debates over the appropriate kind of development is way past the quantity versus quality impasse.

Nevertheless, what happened over the years was a slow, incremental reorientation in development thinking, a broadening of the concept of development as new learning come about and as experience gains more ground. The proponents of sustainable development effectively brought all these efforts together, to once and for all, come up with a notion of a true and more holistic, meaningful development.

The PA 21, in advocating sustainable development, brings out succinctly the things that should matter to the Philippines as a nation in its quest for development. It goes beyond the three pillars of development-economic, social, environmental, and posits that development would also have to be viewed on moral, spiritual, cultural and political grounds. Sustainable development, more than anything else is a rethinking of what development ought to be, what difference it ought to make in the lives of our people. It focuses attention on the quality of life instead of level and quantity of development.

PA 21 definition reveals the many facets of development and points out that all the dimensions of sustainable development are equally important and interrelated. It is therefore no longer a question of “economy or environment nor of tradeoffs”. One cannot be achieved without the other. Decisions on the economic dimension will inevitably have an impact on the environment or culture. Political decisions often raises social and moral questions. Sustainable development is therefore a kind of development that does not bask in the glory of a high GNP growth on one level or a high HDI on another level but in the supreme dignity of citizens enjoying all the elements of a decent standard of living.

Long-term Development

Wealth creation knew no limits in the past. The vast environmental resources used to be considered infinite and mostly free. The doctrine of capitalism has encouraged growth maximization almost without any regard for what it holds for the future. It has led to overconsumption of natural resources and disregard for the assimilative capacities of the environment for waste because of its focus on serving the welfare needs of the present generation. Recent history has taught us the folly of going after short-term gains.

As a holistic development approach, SD takes a long-term perspective on development. It is now generally accepted that the perpetuation of the human species, and Mother Earth inevitably depends on what we do now. Some of the effects of actions done now only show up years or decades later. Certainly, one should not be satisfied with a development that enriches the present generation while impoverishing the future because that is tantamount to jeopardizing the future of one’s own children and his children’s children.

Equitable Development

It is development founded on the value of sharing. Hence, the global definition of sustainable development presupposes the importance of inter-temporal, intra-generational and intergenerational equity in development. Sustainable development is a kind of development that does not favor only a few or only those who have the clout to influence development decisions but gives equal opportunity to all members of society (intra-generational equity), its benefits will not only accrue to the present generation but all generations to come (intergenerational equity) and it does not prefer immediate, short term benefits over long term benefits (intertemporal equity).

It is development that “builds a humane, equitable and caring society cognizant of the need for human dignity for all”. Sustainable development is about giving our children new hope for a better world, “a world free of indignity and indecency occasioned by vi poverty, environmental degradation and patterns of unsustainable development”. Sustainable development posits that development should, without prejudice, benefit all, including women, youth, children, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Sustainable development is a paradigm, philosophy and framework of development .

Primacy of Human Development

As a paradigm, sustainable development redefines our model or standard of development. It proposes a pattern of development that is guided by a set of well-defined principles, precepts or tenets. It advances that the ultimate purpose of development is, above all, human development. Therefore, a high GDP does not mean much for sustainable development if it does not translate in the improvement of the lives of the majority or if economic oppression deprives them of their sense of dignity and human potential.

Sustainable development is development for and by the people. It recognizes ecological integrity, economic development, social harmony, responsible governance, moral and spiritual development as the mutually reinforcing and supportive pillars of a life-enhancing development.

Values-Driven and Principled Development

As a philosophy, sustainable development is driven by a set of core values. These values are imbedded in the PA 21′s set of principles and parameters of sustainable development (see Chapter III & IV). The pursuit of sustainable development must permeate the beliefs, value systems and theoretical foundation that guide the way a person conducts his life, how a government conducts its affairs and how the private sector conducts their business.

Multi-stakeholder Decision-making

As a development framework, sustainable development prescribes a new system of governance, a new approach for development decision-making. Stripped to its substance, sustainable development as an approach is about making planning, policy-making, programming, and other development processes a little better by means of an integrated and inclusive manner of decision-making. It advocates a process of development that is participatory, consultative, community based, multi-stakeholder and pro-active. It views development as a shared goal and therefore a collective responsibility of all sectors of society, thus, highlighting the value of consensus-building and partnerships.

PA 21 in effect advocates a systems perspective on development that considers both the causes and effects of development actions. It advances the view that everything is interconnected and as such development cannot be sold on a retail basis, it would need to be delivered as a whole package.

This implies that economic, social, or environmental projects cannot be pursued independently of each other nor is it enough to have a set of projects/initiatives separately for each dimension. After all, development cannot be considered sustainable just because a country has a rising GDP, a comprehensive set of social welfare projects or environmental projects. One has to ensure that the impact of one on the other does not negate overall welfare gains. SD is therefore inconsistent with sector-oriented decision-making. “SD involves harmonizing otherwise conflicting policies and programs by finding innovative ways of resolving conflicts and minimizing trade-offs. Mainstreaming sustainable development does not necessarily call for developing new development programs but implores reform in decision-making processes and structures in order to change the way we do development.

It rejects over-centralization of decision-making and advocates for the development of synergies through the coordinated actions of the three key actors in sustainable development. It is not about co-optation of the corresponding roles of these actors but forging creative and collaborative partnerships.

Three-folding view of Society

Sustainable development recognizes that the key actors in sustainable development are the government, business and civil society, representing the three realms of modern society: economy, polity and culture. The Philippine Agenda 21 states that these realms and actors, while functionally different, are interacting, dynamic and complementary components of an integrated whole. This suggests that in order to humanize development, there must be an interplay of market forces, state intervention, and civil society participation.

Creative social unity and harmony can only occur from a respect and appreciation of the mutually enhancing perspectives and roles of key actors and ultimately in their free choice to collaborate towards achieving the higher common good of society. Sustainable result is the result of government, business, civil society “acting together, united by a common purpose to seek a better life for all Filipinos”.

The foregoing attempt at elaborating people’s otherwise notional views suggests that sustainable development is as much a process as it is a desired goal and state of development. It must be emphasized that this conceptual enrichment has been borne out of the extensive practice and experience in implementing SD through various means and modalities. Hence, the process is not a unidirectional process, concept has dictated how sustainable development should be practiced and vice versa, practice has informed the further evolution of the concept. It maybe noted that even without a unified conceptual understanding, many have responded to the imperatives of SD and have pursued programs and activities or individual actions that are supportive of SD in whatever means they have seen fit. Such initiatives are what have served to enrich our conceptual understanding of SD.

1.4 The Antithesis: What is Unsustainable Development?

Knowing what sustainable development is should make it easier to recognize unsustainable patterns of development. PA 21 characterizes unsustainable development as jobless and ruthless (in the realm of the economy), rootless (in the realm of culture), futureless (in the realm of nature) and voiceless (in the realm of polity) vii.

Unsustainable development is characterized by the following undesirable forms or patterns of development:

A weak economy that is manifested by:

  • boom-bust economic cycles
  • unmanaged budget deficits
  • high indebtedness and trade imbalances
  • pursuit of limited sectoral interests with substantial negative impacts on the other sectors
  • serving the interest of only a few or a small segment of the population
  • suffering the costs instead of benefiting from globalization
  • widening gap between the rich and the poor
  • displacement of people from their source of livelihood and cultural roots
  • marginalization and exclusion of some sectors of society from benefiting from development

Understanding SD EPA 21 Booklet

Chapter II: The Vision and Goals of Sustainable Development

2.1 The Good Life: Elements of a Shared Vision

The PA 21 envisions a “better quality for all through the development of a just, moral, creative, spiritual, economically vibrant, caring, diverse yet cohesive society characterized by appropriate productivity, participatory and democratic processes and living in harmony within the limits of the carrying capacity of nature and the integrity of creation”.

This vision for SD is as much an expression of the desired well-being of the Filipino as an individual as it is an image of the society to which he belongs. It is likewise a prescription of a development path for that society.

“Development is therefore not the vision itself, rather it is the means to achieve the kind of society and quality of life of the people for whom development is intended for”

In essence, sustainable development is providing all generations of Filipinos the opportunity to seek and enjoy a good life. Everybody longs to have a good life. What is a good life? When can someone say he is having a good life? The elements of a good life are anchored on the principles espoused in PA 21.

A good life is not only about enjoying material wealth or well-being . It is not enough that an individual is well fed, educated and sheltered because the well-being of an individual cannot be abstracted from the kind of family and society to which he belongs to. In this purportedly highly-developed and industrialized world, affluent people live amidst unsecure, crime and conflict-ridden societies, increasing incidence of family break-ups and a lowered sense of community. What good is development then if it leads to widespread alienation, despondence, desperation, conflict and even hatred or if it keeps people from leading peaceful lives.

A good life is therefore a kind of life that enhances a person’s overall sense of well-being (bio-physical, mental, and emotional). It comes with all the elements that will enable him to develop his fullest potentials and that would enable him to provide for the hierarchy of his needs (i.e. physiological or biological, social, security and spiritual and self-actualization needs) viii. This includes: (a) an adequate and stable source of income to secure his and his family’s basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, mobility, leisure etc.; (b) a beautiful natural environment to enjoy, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink; (c) good state of health; (d) a sense of dignity derived from his circle of familial relationships and the society at large that nurtures one’s sense of belonging, provides fundamental social freedoms and access to knowledge, enables him to enjoy his own unique culture and observe traditions that are sacred and important to him, gives him the freedom to express and search for his spirituality and moral sensitivity; (d) sense of security and peace (freedom from fear, danger and worry); and (e) some form of control or exercise of choice over his future through the ability to participate in decision-making that pertain to his welfare.

A good life is a productive, meaningful and useful life. A good life is also having a stable and nurturing personal, family and social life.

The good life will see the emergence of the Filipino who is proud and secure in his identity as a Filipino; optimistic about his own and his children’s future. God-centered, he is driven by a higher purpose so he decides not on the basis of pure self-interest but derives fulfillment from contributing to the welfare of others, sees his life’s experiences and aspirations in relation to a bigger society and therefore makes a deliberate decision to lead a responsible life.

He is resourceful, independent and prides himself in having a productive life and upholds the virtue of hard work. He knows how to search for and create opportunities for others, by using all resources available at his disposal such as information and other modern technologies. He is not one who will enrich himself while impoverishing another nor will he take more than he gives. He is one who knows the rewards of simple living, conscious of his ” footprints” on the environment, he will not succumb to the excesses of a materialistic, consumerist lifestyle. The good life will enable to Filipino to retain many of the virtues that reinforce social cohesion within Philippine society: makaDiyos, makakalikasan, makatao, makabayan as well as his openness, freedom of expression, gender sensitivity, facility at conflict resolution, resilience, flexibility, highly personalized approach at relationships, bayanihan spirit, and passion for creative and artistic expression. ix A Filipino living the good life is anchored on a deep spirituality and understanding of his cultural roots/heritage and yet is attuned to modernization and the rapid changes of the times.

Ultimately, A Filipino having the good life will make a conscious choice to seek the greater common good of society.

This vision clearly illustrates the dichotomous role of the members of society as beneficiary-recipient and contributor-enabler of development.

A community of Filipinos having the good life will pave the way for the birth of a caring society that respects diversity and individual freedoms but is bound by shared values and principles founded on sharing, fairness, benevolence, and primordial respect for the integrity of life and nature. A society that offers a healthy balance of the amenities of modern urban life and the richness of traditional rural life. A society which derives strength in the viability of its institutions, peaceful co-existence of people from all denominations, and the stability of the family as the basic social unit. A society that commands the respect of other nations and societies with its contributions to the global creation of knowledge and furtherance of global welfare but is at the same time steadfast in upholding its sovereignty. A society that is able to secure for its members significant opportunities from the on-going scientific, information and knowledge revolution and yet is firmly grounded on sound ethical, spiritual and moral principles.

2.2 The Goals of Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is about creating the conditions that will empower Filipinos to radically transform the quality of their lives, enabling conditions that will create and provide them the opportunities to enjoy the good life. The Philippine Agenda 21 proposes that these conditions can be met through the pursuit of the following goals of sustainable development:

Goal 1

A viable and vibrant economy is in place that is able to: (i) provide every Filipino and his family a stable income sufficient to meet their present and future needs; and consequently (ii) reduce the incidence of poverty; and the degree of inequality between the rich and the poor.

Goal 2

A caring social system that promotes cohesion, peaceful co-existence and harmony between and among its constituents is established through the institution of a social order based on fairness and provision of support systems that look after the welfare of every Filipino and develops his full human potential by: (i) nurturing his creativity and special talents, spiritual and moral values, (ii) securing his basic needs, dignity and human rights,(iii) safeguarding his health; (iv) enabling a satisfying family life, (v) granting him fundamental social freedoms, and (vi) preserving and strengthening the positive in the Filipino’s unique culture and aspirations.

Goal 3

Ecological integrity is protected and maintained to provide every Filipino a clean natural and man-made environment and a productive natural resource base that will provide opportunities for leisure and a healthy, productive life.

Goal 4

A responsible governance system is institutionalized that makes economic, political and social institutions accountable to the public and empowers every adult Filipino who desires to have the freedom to exercise his right to participate in decisions pertaining to his own welfare.

Chapter III: Delivering the Promise of a Good Life for all Filipinos: SD Operational Framework

The operational framework of PA 21 is grounded on a set of principles, parameters, strategies and indicators that should guide development decisions and will define the range of policy and action measures that need to be in place to realize the vision and goals of sustainable development. All stakeholders will need to ensure that none of the principles are violated in the name of development and that all actions and decisions are in accordance with the parameters in the succeeding section below. Therefore, these principles and parameters shall serve as the sieve through which the soundness and efficacy of development interventions shall be evaluated with the aid of sustainable development indicators.

3.1 Principles of Sustainable Development

The vision and goals of sustainable development will be attained by circumscribing the country’s development framework, policies and programs within the following principles, serving as guideposts for development decision-making:

  1. Primacy of Developing Human Potential
    People are at the core of development initiatives
  2. Holistic Science and Appropriate Technology
    The search for solutions to the complex milieu of development problems has to be undertaken with the perspective that situates specific problems in the larger social and ecological context. This facilitates the development and use of appropriate technology.
  3. Cultural, Moral and Spiritual Sensitivity
    Nurturing the inherent strengths of local and indigenous knowledge, practices and beliefs while respecting the cultural diversity, moral norms and spiritual essence of Philippine society.
  4. Self-determination
    Respecting the right and relying on the inherent capacity of the country and its people to decide on the course of their own development.
  5. National Sovereignty
    Self-determination at the national level where the norms of society and the specifics of the local ecology inform national governance. Includes human and environmental security as well as achieving and ensuring security and self-reliance in basic staple foods.
  6. Gender Sensitivity
    Recognizing the important and complementary roles and the empowerment of both men and women in development.
  7. Peace, Order and National Unity
    Securing the right of all to a peaceful and secure existence.
  8. Social Justice, Inter, Intra-generational and spatial equity
    Ensuring social cohesion and harmony through equitable distribution of resources and providing the various sectors of society with equal access to development opportunities and benefits today and in the future. Balance and peace ed distribution of development all over the country and not development in one area only
  9. Participatory Democracy
    Ensuring the participation and empowerment of all sectors of society in development decision-making and processes and to operationalize intersectoral and multisectoral consensus.
  10. Institutional Viability
    Recognizing that sustainable development is a shared, collective and indivisible responsibility which calls for institutional structures that are built around the spirit of solidarity, convergence and partnership between and among different stakeholders.
  11. Viable, Sound and Broad-based Economic Development
    Development founded on a stable economy where the benefits of economic progress are equitably shared across ages, communities, gender, social classes, ethnicities, geographical units and across generations.
  12. Sustainable Population
    Achieving a sustainable population level, structure and distribution while taking cognizance of the limited carrying capacity of nature and the interweaving forces of population, culture, resources, environment and development
  13. Ecological Soundness
    Recognizing nature as our common heritage and thus respecting the limited carrying capacity and integrity of nature in the development process to ensure the right of the present and future generations to this heritage.
  14. Bio-geographic equity and community based resource management
    Recognizing that since communities residing within or most proximate to an ecosystem of a bio-geographic region will be the ones to mostly directly feel the positive and negative impacts of that ecosystem, they should be given prior claim to the development decisions affecting that ecosystem including the management of the resources. To ensure bio-geographic equity, other affected communities should be involved in such decisions
  15. Global Cooperation
    Building upon and contributing to the diverse capacities of individual nations.

3.2 Parameters of Sustainable Development

Operationally, sustainable development is development that is ecologically friendly, economically sound, politically empowering, socially just and equitable, spiritually liberating, gender sensitive, based on holistic and integrative science, technologically appropriate, builds upon positive Filipino values, history, culture and excellence and rests upon strong institutional foundations. Securing the right of every Filipino to the good life will require: a sound and viable economy, social cohesion, responsible governance, appropriate productivity, and ecological integrity.

Development is sustainable if it is guided by the parameters and strategies listed below. These provide the roadmap and imperatives that will take us towards the path of sustainable development.

  • Economic activity, productivity and profitability are circumscribed by the limits of the earth’s fragile integrity and carrying capacity and the rights and responsibilities of human beings for a more equitable distribution of economic resources and products, social justice and peace, true democracy, freedom, and respect for indigenous and Filipino values and culture.
  • National sovereignty, social and human development, and ecological integrity are not curtailed, eroded, sacrificed and/or ultimately destroyed in the process of opening up the economy to world trade and investments.
  • Development policies are redirected to minimize and mitigate, and eventually arrest and reverse the human, social and ecological costs of conventional economic modernization.
  • The pursuit of economic activity is in the context of more stable, sustainable, socially empowering, gender sensitive and broad-based development.
  • Ecologically, economically and socially sound strategies and structures replace energy-and material-intensive, environmentally degrading, and economically inefficient patterns of production, distribution and consumption.
  • Unsustainable, as well as conspicuous, luxury, and excessive consumption are discouraged through economic as well as social and regulatory instruments.
  • All sectors of society adopt a systems approach to promote the use of safe and clean production technologies, effective recycling and waste minimization techniques.
  • Precautionary principle is adopted in economic and environmental management with emphasis on preventive rather than mitigating measures.
  • Labor is no longer reduced to a commodity and is thus protected from exploitative, unsafe and unhealthy terms and conditions of employment and arbitrary business adjustment policies toward market uncertainties.
  • Filipino creativity, skills, initiative, diligence, and other talents rather than low wage rates become the basis of attracting domestic and foreign investment.
  • Economic progress will increasingly rely on the creative energies and ingenuity of the Filipinos, hence, investments are channeled towards the improvement of human capital and the social infrastructure.
  • Economic enterprises internalize social and ecological responsibility by carrying out business activities within the framework of sustainable development.
  • Private sector provides significant support to sustainable development efforts by being responsible for internalization of sustainable development principles within its decisions and operations as well as through direct grants, donations, financial partnerships and other innovative financing arrangements as well as sharing of technology and expertise with other sustainable development actors/implementors.
  • National sovereignty is protected and defended as part of the country’s inherent right to self-determination for its people, culture, economy, politics and environment. Uncompromised national sovereignty truly pursues a pro-poor, pro-people, pro-nature, spiritual path of development, contextualizing economic reforms, including poverty eradication, within the framework of sustainable development
  • Participatory governance, cooperative partnerships and devolution form the guiding framework at local, provincial and national levels in operationalizing sustainable development. LGUs and sustainable development advocates are primarily responsible to advance sustainable development by the integration of PA 21 into the formulation of local and regional strategies.
  • The process of participatory governance is guided and enhanced by extensive multi-sectoral consultations, dialogues and representations; discussion of alternative policy options, and by the principles of subsidiarity, transparency, accountability and fairness. Meaningful public participation in relevant decision-making processes towards reforming the bureaucracy, including administrative structures and processes, is achieved through adequate social preparation, sectoral representation and with a clear understanding of the practice of dialogue and principled negotiations.
  • Electoral reforms, including awareness-raising activities by all sectors of society, usher in an era of true democracy to replace the elite democracy that has dominated the political process.
  • Government provides an enabling environment for the equitable and appropriate matching of sustainable development programs and projects with financial resources, including both domestic and foreign, public and private, in accordance with plans and programs developed in coordination with various sectors of society.
  • Development policy creates an environment where sustainable patterns of production, distribution and consumption permeate and govern the whole society.
  • Deep social and ecological considerations are directly imbedded in the long-term development framework, policies, and activities of the nation, in effect internalizing ecological and social costs, transforming the concept of the “safety net” to a more pro-active and structural stance, and rejecting a “grow now, pay later” approach.
  • The conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and natural resources by self-reliant communities in rural areas are given greater priority, and appropriate rural development is structurally linked and balanced with urban development.
  • A new, comprehensive indicator of sustainable development, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative measures of human (including basic needs), social (including family ties), institutional, and ecological health is adopted to complement and supplement current gross national product/gross domestic product (GNP/GDP), environmental and natural resources accounting (ENRA), human development index (HDI), gender development index (GDI), and sustainable national income (SNI) indicators.
  • Sustainable community-based resource management is promoted including ensuring appropriate resource access and asset reform as well as defense and recognition of ancestral domain and community intellectual rights.
  • Peace and order are pursued and maintained in recognition of basic human rights and the rights of individuals, communities and society as a whole to a peaceful and secure existence.
  • National security concerns include human security, environmental security, food security and self-sufficiency.
  • Existing policies, plans, programs, projects and initiatives are reviewed, monitored, and evaluated on the basis of PA 21 by line agencies in active collaboration with the Philippine Council of Sustainable Development (PCSD) and other advocates of sustainable development.
  • Multi-stakeholder and community-based sustainable development plans and programs are prioritized over national plans and programs that undermine sustainable development. Such multi-stakeholder and community-based sustainable resource management plans and/or programs are also considered as bases for national development planning.
  • Civil society is further reinforced and institutionalized through its own self-empowering activities and self-accreditation mechanisms, a supportive and healthy climate for participatory governance; distributive or associative economic activity as well as appropriate support from all spheres of society.
  • The contributions of cultural and social capital to the creation of surplus wealth by the economic sector is duly recognized; the insufficient funding of their sustenance and development is corrected; and there is balance in the allocation of finances/capital for the formation of the other forms of capital; physical, human, ecological, cultural, spiritual and social capital.
  • Education for sustainable development is geared towards the realization of the full potential of the human being as an individual and as an integral member of a family, community, and society as a whole. Besides developing economic, ecological, political, and cultural literacy and competence, education also promotes human well-being, develops emotional and mental intelligence as well as moral an spiritual potentials of the human being. Moreover, education motivates the human being to place one’s developed capacities in the service of the Supreme Being, nature, society, and sustainable development.
  • The development of holistic and nationalistic approaches to sustainable development draws upon inherent Filipino values, traditions, practices, indigenous knowledge and areas of excellence.
  • Filipino multi-ethnicity and cultural diversity are respected.
Science & Technology
  • The utilization of renewable/non-conventional energy resources, appropriate technology, and promotion of energy conservation and efficiency guide energy development programming that aims, among others, to reduce local pollution and environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reductionist science policy is balanced and contextualized by more holistic, comprehensive, and integrative scientific paradigms and methodologies, including indigenous knowledge systems and ecology. These holistic science elucidate the essence of nature, human beings, and society thereby enhancing and strengthening the traditional and/or scientific practices necessary for sustainable development.
  • The different sciences are placed on an independent footing vis-à-vis industry through the significant increase in financial infusion from innovative and alternative sources including government, foundations, and individuals who are guided by the need for a new kind of science and technology that will help support and achieve sustainable development.
  • Environment-friendly and clean technologies suited to Philippine conditions are generated, adopted, promoted and mainstreamed to eventually replace polluting and environmentally destructive technologies.
  • The integrity and carrying capacity of the environment and natural resources are not degraded, but rather conserved, protected and enhanced in the process of development.
  • Environmental management tools in policy and decision-making, covering the full life cycle of commodities as well as services, such as, but not limited to, integrated resource planning, are adopted.
  • The biological limits to natural resource productivity are scientifically researched and established and become the bases for strategic policy decisions on societal use of the country’s natural resources.
  • Environmental protection is viewed as a shared and indivisible responsibility of all individuals, families, communities, and other institutions in society.
  • Communities’ access to and control of common natural resources, such as water and biodiversity, is assured.
  • Biological diversity conservation and enhancement are pursued through direct involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples and the extension of support to institutional initiatives including the harmonization of national and local policies, legislation and programs, to protect biodiversity.
  • Regular review, proposals for appropriate amendment or repeal, and strict enforcement of environmental laws are undertaken by both communities and appropriate government institutions.
  • The family is strengthened in its role of nurturing free, equally appreciated, responsible, creative and caring individuals who are the essence of society, so that threats to the integrity of the family are effectively addressed through, among others, regeneration of family values.
  • The root causes of violence and conflict are addressed so that peace and sustainable development, which are interrelated and indivisible, are achieved and maintained.
  • A sustainable population level, structure and distribution are achieved and maintained through education, family life and responsible parenthood trainings, reduction of socio-economic and gender inequity, geographically and ecologically balanced development, and life-enhancing policies, among others.
  • The major groups of society are empowered and allowed to fully participate in all stages of development.
  • Sustainable human settlements, characterized, among others, by equitable access to adequate shelter for all, are promoted and ensured. These settlements provide for satisfaction of basic needs that make for decent living including security of land tenure and ancestral domain, quality education, livelihood, leisure, freedom, water, health, housing, sanitation, infrastructure and communications.
  • Women, youth, indigenous people, fisherfolk, peasants, elderly, urban poor, formal labor, workers in the informal sector, children and persons with disabilities, are recognized as equal partners in shaping, crafting and implementing development programs; their contribution, including a significant economic role, is recognized in creating a healthy and safe-living environment; and their rights are respected by cultural norms as well as the laws and practices of the country.
  • The integral link among indigenous peoples, nature and land is recognized; the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain are recognized and protected; their culture respected; and their indigenous knowledge and practices taken as guides to sustainable resource management.
  • Environmental and social awareness as well as the development of environmental, social and biological ethics, are vigorously promoted.
  • Unsustainable lifestyle, consumption patterns and luxurious and/or excessive consumption are discouraged through economic, social and regulatory instruments.
  • Fragile and threatened communities are given special consideration with regards to their special vulnerability in the face of development plans, programs and projects.
  • Social, spatial and intergenerational equity and justice are promoted in guiding the planning, implementation and approval of policies, programs, projects and activities.
  • Development activities and interventions are undertaken with the primary aim of building the capacities of communities for self-reliance in consideration of their self-dignity and inherent capacity to improve their own lives.
  • Delivery of social services, notably accessible and quality education and health care, is accorded equally high priority in financial and investment policy and programming.
  • The youth, which represent one entire generation of sectors and individuals, will take up the cudgels towards realizing the goals and visions of PA 21. As such, they should be provided with the necessary support structures for educational and moral values and activities development.
  • The institutional competence and capability to manage sustainable development is improved and financially supported
  • Financial support is provided for the improvement of social infrastructure as part of the overall economic infrastructure.
  • Commitments undertaken by the Philippines under the multilateral/bilateral environmental agreements are operationalized domestically through legislative actions, setting up of institutions and adoption of programs of action integrating these commitments into national action plans.
  • The Philippines continues to take the lead in formulating and articulating positions of developing countries related to sustainable development to narrow the gap between developed/industrialized countries and developing countries.
  • Sustainable development efforts are operationalized locally, recognizing the significant role LGUs will have to play in close cooperation with the different sectors of society.
  • Mechanisms are provided and supported to enhance access, flow and feedback of information among civil society, government and business, utilizing all available forms of communication and information of transparency.
  • Government implements strict comprehensive measures to stop graft and corruption and improve bureaucratic efficiencies so that it responds in a timely and effective manner to the critical needs of people and communities.
  • Competence and capabilities of LGUs, civil society and communities to manage sustainable development and are improved and financially supported.
  • Development planning and approaches for sustainable development are installed at the LGU and community levels, through a sustained capability building and technical assistance program by national government.
  • Administrative agency or machinery is established at the regional, provincial and city levels to operationalize the planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring of Philippine Agenda 21.

3.3 Indicators of Sustainable Development

Table 1 below presents an indicator framework for a core set of indicators for measuring progress towards sustainable development. The PCSD initiated in 1998 the publication of a source book on sustainable development indicators (SDIs) containing a list of about 200 indicators. The list is necessarily comprehensive and expansive because the indicators are of various levels of aggregation and included pressure, state and response indicators. In the interest of having a more focused and effective monitoring and evaluation system for sustainable development and this document being a framework plan, the indicator framework below emphasizes intended results rather than outputs of development interventions. The more specific and output based indicators should be at the level of the sectoral and implementation plans which can be drawn up by implementing units following the elements of this framework plan.

It maybe noted that some of the indicators listed below are not yet well developed nor are these part of the official statistical system. But because these information are considered critical and meaningful for reaching the goals of SD, they are nonetheless included with the view to pushing and working towards making these available in the near future.

This indicator system is meant to supplement the standard measures of development being used in the Philippines until such time that a unified and integrated system of statistics is in place. Sustainable development is not an end-state but rather involves a process, hence, for many of the indicators, the target level or absolute value may not matter as much as the trend or movement. Validation and firming up this core set will be a continuing process, at least in the initial years of the renewed implementation of PA 21.

Table 1
Philippine Agenda 21 Indicator Framework

Vision/Intended Impact: Opportunities for a Good Life Accessible to all Filipinos

Indicators: Sustainable Development Aggregate Index/Human Development Index/Quality of Life Index/Good Life Index (To be developed)

Goal Element Outcomes Indicators Indicative Targets (by year 2030) Baseline/ Benchmark (Year)
A Viable and Vibrant Economy Established and Maintained Sustained Increase in Per Capita Income Levels and Growth GDP per capita level and growth rate GDP per capita level and growth rate at par with other ASEAN countries Phils-$970 Thailand-$1,915 Malaysia–$3,617 Taiwan–$12,370 Singapore- $25,321 (1998-2000)
Decreasing Poverty Incidence Percent of Population Living Below Poverty Threshold Reduce at least by half 33.7% (2000)
Equitable Income Distribution Gini Index of Income Inequality Gini Index closer to zero 0.48 (2000)
Decreasing Unemployment/Underemployment Unemployment/Underemployment Rate Rate closer to zero 11.2%/22% (2000)
Social Cohesion and Harmony Well-established Improved Educational Status Functional Literacy Rate 100% 86.3 (1998)
Improved Health Status Life expectancy at birth life expectancy at par with countries of the same level of economic development 67.4 (1998)
Increased Access to Safe Drinking Water Percent of Population without Access to Safe Drinking Water Reduce at least by half the percent of people without access to safe drinking water 13.2% (1998)
Improved Access to Arts, Culture, Sports and Spiritual Enrichment Percent of Population with Access to Arts, Culture, Sports and Spiritual Facilities? Close to 100% None
Peace and Order Secured Crime rate Crime rate reduced by half 108 per 100,000
Stable Family Support System Incidence of Family Break-ups Rate reduced by half None
Sustainable Population Growth Population Growth Rate Rate closer to 1 RP-2.36 Thailand-0.9 Indonesia-1.5
Ecological Integrity Protected Improved Air Quality Ambient Concentration of Air Pollutants Downward trend PM: 1.4mmt? NOx: 4.5mmt?
Improved Water Quality BOD levels in water bodies Downward trend See figure 18 below
Improved Access to Sanitation Percent of Population with adequate sewage and waste disposal facilities Closer to 100% 80.8% (1998)
Declining Rates of Resource Depletion Soil Erosion Rate Reduce by half 80.62mt/ ha/year (1989)
Live coral cover Total mangrove area Increasing over time 5.3% 118,000has. (1995)
Forest Area as a Percent of Total Land Area Upward trend 17% (2000)
Rate of Biodiversity Loss (Threatened species/total describes Downward trend 8% (2000)
Share of Renewable energy to Total Energy Use Upward trend 28.8% (1997)
Responsible/Good Governance Institutionalized Increased People’s Participation in Political and development decision-making Processes Number of Operational Multi-stakeholder Bodies/Coalitions/Networks Upward trend None
Increased Public Accountability of Societal Institutions SD rating/ranking of institutions of government, business and civil society groups Rating scheme regularized and popularized None

Chapter IV: State of Sustainable Development in the Philippines

A cursory analysis of available indicators reveals the fragile state of development in the Philippines. Though there are positive trends and progress has been steady in a number of areas, development patterns remain by and large unsustainable. On the whole, development has not created the enabling conditions that would enable majority of the Filipinos to ultimately lead a good and decent life.

4.1 The Economy

Macroeconomic Stability and Growth

Figure 1 portrays a continuously expanding economy for the past decade, an indication of the economy’s resilience against external shocks such as the Asian financial crisis in the late 90′s and the global economic slowdown at the beginning of the new millennium. This stability has been attributed to sound macroeconomic management as can be gleaned from a healthy balance of payments (Figure 2), manageable fiscal position (Figure 3) and stable interest rates (Figure 4). However, a closer look at these fundamentals indicates the precarious situation of the country’s economy. For instance, inflows of capital and foreign exchange have been mainly coming from remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers, rather than from a genuine stability that increases demand for Philippine products or long-term foreign direct investments. Moreover, this source of growth may have come at a high cost of family break-ups, juvenile delinquency and increasing materialism, although no formal study has been made yet to affirm this.

FIGURE 2. External Accounts (%GNP)

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The fiscal balance (Table 1) of the country for the period 1998 to 2002 reveals a rapid increasing trend in deficit spending. In 1998, budget deficit amounted to about PhP49.9 Billion, jumping to PhP134.2 Billion in 2000. The latest available data shows that fiscal deficit has ballooned to PhP 212.683 Billion.

Table 1
Fiscal Balance
1998 to 2002 (In million pesos)

Item 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Revenues 567,293 563,732 514,762 478,502 462,515
Expenditures 779,976 710,755 648,974 590,160 512,496
Surplus (Deficit) (212,683) (147,023) (134,212) (111,658) (49,981)

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, http://www.nscb.gov.ph, Accessed: June 5, 2004

There has been a narrowing of the external trade gap, but increases in exports have been coming from industries where expansion and growth has been pretext on the availability of cheap labor, a reality that has kept many Filipinos from having a more decent standard of living. Any contraction on imports, on the other hand, will need to be examined if this has been accompanied by a stronger domestic capability in producing capital goods rather than a result of severe restraint on importation due to weakness of the Philippine peso.

Tables 2 and 3 show the country’s rate and level of economic growth generally falling behind most of its neighbors. If the economy continues to grow at the on-going rate, it will take about 21 years before the country can attain the present per capita income of Thailand.

TABLE 2. Comparative Gross Domestic Product Average Growth Rates and Rank

Per Capita Income Level

Per capital real GDP levels have modestly increased by 2.1 percent from PhP13,006 (2002) to PhP13, 283 (2003). The potential growth of per capita income appears to be significantly constrained by a high population growth rate (2.3 percent) (Table 4).

Philippines and Selected Asian Countries: Annual Per Capita GDP In US $

Source: IM F’s World Economic Outlook

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, http://www.nscb.gov.ph * Figures for 2001-2003 are the new population estimates based on the NSCB Resolution No. 2 (series of 2002), Adoption of the Decennial Census-Based Population Growth Rates. The average annual growth rate (exponential) for 2001-2003 was 2.3128 percent. Source: Technical Committee on Population and Housing Statistics, NSCB. Data are as of 29 January 2004.

Spatial Equity

Moreover, an examination of the spatial equity of this economic growth would reveal an even less optimistic picture. The country’s economic base and distribution of economic output appears to be both narrowly spread. Figure 5 shows that the sector with the largest source of labor (agriculture) accounts for only 19.9% of total economic output. This is also the sector where more than 1/5 of employed labor is underemployed.

FIGURE 5. Philippines: Sectoral Share to GDP and Employment, 2000 (In Percent)

The latest data on employment indicate that country’s unemployment rate has not significantly declined. There are seasonal fluctuations to the levels of unemployment and underemployment rates but the latest available data shows a slight increase in the unemployment rate from 10.6 percent (Jan 2003) to 11 percent in (Jan 2004). Similarly, underemployment rate has slightly increased from 16.1 percent (Jan 2003) to (Jan 2004) (Table 5 & 6). In general, these levels are high and will require a higher economic growth to reduce unemployment and underemployments rates.

Household Population 15 Years Old and Over by Employment Status April 2002 – January 2004

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, http://www.nscb.gov.ph, Accessed: June 5, 2004

Employed Persons by Major Industry Group Jan 2003 – Jan 2004(in thousands)

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, http://www.nscb.gov.ph, Accessed: June 5, 2004


  1. Data were taken from the results of the quarterly rounds of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) using past week as reference period.
  2. Details may not add up to totals due to rounding. p/ – preliminary

Figure 6 shows that total nearly 1/3 of total economic output is produced in the National Capital Region and more than half is accounted for by only three regions.

FIGURE 6. Philippines: Regional Share of GDP, 1990 & 2000 In Percent

Poverty Situation

Poverty incidence remains high and is getting worse, especially in the countryside (Table 7). Rural poverty appears to be generally unresponsive to economic growth. These suggest a dire scenario as far as the intra-generational equity of the current pace and quality of development is concerned.

TABLE 7 Philippines: Poverty Incidence and Magnitude, 1997 & 2000 In Terms of Families

One out of three Filipino families are considered poor; even more perceive themselves to be poor. With 33.7 percent of Filipino families falling below the official income poverty line as of 2000, and 58 percent of Filipinos rating themselves as poor as of early 2002 (see Table 8), the Philippines continues to have one of the highest rates of poverty incidence in Southeast Asia.

Income Distribution

The income gap between rich and poor likewise remains large, and in fact widened in the mid-1990s in the midst of dynamic economic growth (Table 8). This was reflected in a rising Gini coefficient from 1994 to 1997, rising from 0.45 to 0.49, after having dropped from 0.47 in 1991. This was also seen in the way the share of the poorest one-fifth of the population in total consumer expenditures dropped from 9.7 to 8.8 percent between 1994 and 1997, after having risen from 8.4 percent in 1991. The gap appears not to have appreciably narrowed since 1997, with the 2000 figures not materially different from 1997.

Poverty and Income Distribution

*Estimates by Balisacan (2002)
** Social Weather Stations surveys on self-rated poverty.

4.2 Human Development, Culture and Society

Access to Basic Services

The overall social development status of the economy shows significant and steady improvements. In terms of health (Figure 9), nutrition (Figure 10 ), and education ( Figure 11). On the other hand, these social welfare improvements occur at a pace relatively slower than those posted by our neighbors (Table 9). Furthermore, there’s a wide geographic variation in social development. Most social welfare indicators show that poorer regions are half as better off as the richer ones in terms of health , nutrition , and education.

FIGURE 9 Philippines: Infant Mortality Rates

Access to Safe Drinking Water

The percentage of household without access to water was measured at 26.3 percent in 1991 (Table 10). This declined by 4.8 percent to 21.5 percent in 2000.

Assuming the same pace of poverty reduction under the MTPDP, the amount of resource needed to meet the MDG in low-cost water will increase from PhP 946 million in 2002 to PhP 17.635 billion in 2015. The amount of resources required for low-cost water is not large per se. However, the major challenge appears to be the relatively low priority given to the sector in the budget and the need to focus on hard-to-reach areas. ( Manasan, R.G. 2002. Philippines Country Study on Meeting the Millennium Development Goals. UNDP)

Human Development Index (HDI)

The country’s HDI has been steadily improving, from 0.55 in 1980 to 0.74 in 1998. However, the Philippines has not kept pace with the HDI improvements of its neighbors. In the 1960s, only Singapore had a higher HDI than the Philippines within ASEAN, today the country lagged behind Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.


The country’s population grew at an average rate of 2.36 percent from 1995 to 2000, higher than the 1990-1995 growth of 2.32 percent and significantly higher than Thailand’s 0.9 percent and Indonesia’s 1.5 percent.

Peace and Order

Table 11 shows that index crimes have decreased from 88.4 in 1993 to 55 in 2002. On the other hand, there has been a gradual increase in non-index crimes from 1995 until 2002. There is also a notable increase in the number of persons arrested from drug-related activities (Table 12). This is partly explained by the increased effort by the PNP as shown by a more frequent conduct of raids. The figures clearly show the extent of seriousness of drug problem in the country.

4.3 The Environment and Natural Resources

Gains have been achieved in arresting natural resource depletion and degradation as shown by the higher environment-adjusted vis-à-vis unadjusted net domestic product in Table 13. These gains were made, however, at the expense of reducing the socio-economic contribution of the municipal fishing, mining and forestry sectors (table 14). The principal threats to ecological integrity continue to make its toll as evidenced by the unabated and rising air (fig. 13) and water pollution (fig.14) as well as increasing soil erosion (fig. 15). Health and productivity losses from declining environmental quality especially in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas have been estimated at about 1 percent of GNP( ADB 2000).

Development options in the Philippines have clearly narrowed because of the deteriorating quality of its environment. On the whole, three threats are especially critical because they touch on the basic natural endowments, support systems and environmental security of most Filipinos.


Forests provide the Philippines a number of critical ecological services, among them: (a) sequestration of water, (b) carbon sequestration, (c) as sources of bio-fuels and fiber, (d) pest breaks, (e) wind breaks, (f) flood mitigation, and (g) biodiversity. Yet, they have been rapidly diminished in the last 100 years. Today, only 17% of the total land area of the country has standing forest cover. Much of the destruction of Philippine forests has been due to the combination of logging, fire, pest and diseases, illegal cutting, and agricultural conversion, two major threats to remaining stands are illegal cutting and forest conversions.

Unsound/Destructive Fishing

Illegal fishing threatens almost two-thirds of total reef fisheries in the Philippines which mainly support the subsistence of poor fishing communities that are hardly able to venture outside their municipal waters. Illegal fishing threatens coral reefs and their associated biodiversity. Thus, its long term impact is serious. Together with illegal fishing, over fishing is estimated to cost the Philippines US2.5 billion of foregone fisheries a year (Reefs at Risk in Southeast Asia, 2002). Since 1948, fishery CPUE has plummeted from about 11 t/hp to less than a t/hp today (White and Cruz-Trinidad, 1998). Continued deterioration of the environment can be seen in the rapid loss of 70 percent of mangrove forests and the deplorable state of the country’s coral reefs with only 5 percent in excellent condition.

Pollution and Solid Wastes

Air and water pollution are direct threats to human and ecological health. Air pollution alone is estimated to cost the country over 350 billion pesos a year in direct health care costs and water pollution (from sedimentation to THS) likewise extract high costs to infrastructure (e.g., irrigation systems), farm productivity, and industry. Solid wastes are heavily eating up LGU budgets. Their management entails from 5-18% of the total expenditures of 17 LGUs in Metro Manila and 42% of the total expenditures of MMDA. These are large amounts which could otherwise be invested on development.

At the same time, the environment present significant opportunities that can be effectively harnessed to secure a better quality of life for Filipinos, to wit:

High Biocultural Diversity

The Philippines has among the highest biodiversity in the world which are settings (and a mirror image) of its high diversity of human cultures spread across coastal to mountain landscapes from north to south of the archipelago. Cultures derive a degree of their definitions from unique combinations of local flora and fauna (e.g., in the Cordillera, Bicol, Mindoro, Palawan, Samar, the Visayan islands, and Mindanao) just as much as local biota derive some basis for flourishing because of local cultures (e.g., traditional varieties of rice, fruits and other crops, spices and herbs). Traditional diets and medicinal preparations and local music and architecture, among some, reflect the close linkage of biophysical and cultural diversity across the country. These widen the landscape of economic, ecological and social possibilities for Filipinos.

Tropical Climate

The country’s tropical climate allows for a low variation of climatic extremes which frees the country from expending high “overhead” costs on housing, clothing, agriculture and industry, which otherwise would be required if lifestyles and production were to be regularly modified to adopt to the extremes of climate. While a tropical setting is not without serious risks (e.g., from typhoons), the savings on the costs of adapting to extremes could be its most significant gain.

Abundabt Water

Being tropical and mountainous has the added benefit of abundant precipitation and water resources. While the country has only 29.9 million hectares of land, it has a considerable capacity for sequestering water. Its large marine area (221 million hectares including exclusive economic zone) allows it to have a diverse and significant volume of fisheries that provide 80% of its protein supply.

Reversibility of Environmental Pressures

The Philippines has had a relatively short history of taking unsustainable development paths. Ecologically insensitive industrialization and activities have been slow and have only begun to take on steam when the country became sensitive to sustainable development options. The space for other options expanded which have the potential for reversing negative pressures on the environment and development.

4.4 Polity and Governance

There are a number of disturbing trends that have mired the landscape for effective and good governance in the country. However, while there are disabling threats, there are also enough opportunities and positive factors which would help catapult the Philippines as a well-governed nation with an empowered citizenry.

Political Rent-Seeking

While the Philippines has been gifted throughout its history with a sprinkling of leaders that can stand head to shoulders with the best in the world, its systems for ensuring political integrity and discipline have been weak. Thus, it has had the continuing tragedy of opportunities for political leadership becoming opportunities for protecting personal interests. Corruption in the public sector borders on being outright shameless and pathetic; it is sapping government’s ability to command respect and legitimacy.

It is an equally serious concern in the private and civil society sectors and the reality and constant exchange of allegations of corruption across sectors have eroded the ability of basic social and political institutions to articulate and convey legitimate public interests. Efforts to mobilize the social and ecological capital of the nation for development have been robbed of substance and credibility. Political leadership has been sequestered by a few and the elite, and passed on as if it were hereditary property. The country’s rosters of elected officials are persistently its collection of the richest and most prominent names in businesses and large landholdings.

Perfidy and Parody of Public Service

Public service has been diminished in its legitimacy and credibility to protect the public interest and to pursue the good for the many. Both rank and file in the civil service have been compromised in terms of both the perception and reality of treachery, duplicity and disloyalty to the public trust. It has been often viewed, even at times dismissed, as a travesty of service to people and country. The ability of public institutions to consolidate and lead efforts to make hard choices on development has been greatly diminished, and if this were to further decline, could halt, even reverse, development in the country.

Strong and Continuing Umbilical Links to Foreign Powers and Interests

Much as the Filipino continues to struggle to be free, the nation has been persistently denied space for self-determination. The economy and much of the country’s basic institutions (education, business, military, government, even the arts) are much too under the thumb of foreign influences, powers and interests that Filipinos can hardly decide what distinctly Filipino positions to take in international issues and disputes, how to resolve domestic dissent and conflicts, what to eat or wear, where to work, and even on how to define and keep the health of their own bodies. These links rob the Filipinos of the opportunities to make decisions for themselves and their future.

Tenacity for Independence and Freedom

Filipinos abhor tyranny of all shades and kind whether from within the country or from without. Even if their history has not seen them fully free from tyranny, it tells of their constant struggle to be free of domination by others: other states, economies and peoples; politicians; rulers; capitalists; transnational corporations; landholders; ideologues; false sciences; or from pretensions of being free (Table 15). This struggle bespeaks of a deep wellspring of political energy for collaborative decision making and collective action.


Widespread Commitment to Democratic Ideals

The recent past has shown that Filipinos are unwilling to leave their fate and future to their leaders. Leadership, to them, is mainly to provide them with the opportunity and inspiration to forge their destiny by themselves, rather than do it for them. The people must be part of the choices and decisions that affect them. Public, private and civil society institutions must reflect the agenda of the many, for the good of most. Filipinos are a rich repository of energy for collective action, cooperation and collaboration (Table 16).


Deep Sense of Community

Filipinos define their individuality and sense of self by their sense of groups. They place great value for being defined by with whom they belong than by what and who belongs to them. Their personal ethics and morals are derived from what values and standards are common to the many. Their capacity to do things together, according to the standards of the many, gives them the ready edge to make hard choices as a society and as a national collectivity.

Chapter V: Agenda for the Future

5.1 Guiding Concepts and Considerations

Integration and Incrementalism

Elements of sustainable development, one way or another, already permeate the work of many development players in the Philippines. In this context, the PA 21 action agenda does not intend to duplicate other initiatives, rather it builds on these efforts. A critical part of the PA 21 process involved a scanning of the various initiatives that have enriched and sought to operationalize sustainable development.

PA 21 will not attempt to supplant the other initiatives that came before it. Instead, It seeks to create synergies through integration and collaboration with existing programs having the same objectives. It effectively is an accumulation of conceptual and operational breakthroughs generated by prior initiatives. As a synergizing mechanism, PA 21 is not a collection of programs and activities, its main thrust is making the whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

At the same time, PA 21 seeks to define a distinct set of action measures that will have the incremental value of bridging all on-going and planned development efforts towards the overarching framework of sustainable development. PA 21 therefore serves as an integrating framework.

Government agencies, business sector, civil society groups and other stakeholders who have been involved in development have intrinsic contributions to sustainable development. Agencies such as the Departments of Education, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Social Welfare and Development, and many others, have been, by virtue of their inherent mandates, undertaking sustainable development oriented activities.

As the main economic agent of society, business has advanced sustainable development by way of employment generation and production of welfare-enhancing goods and services. At the same time, many private businesses have foundations that provide socially or environmentally-oriented services. Civil society have been historically involved in a diversity of worthy development causes. This is not to say, though, that everything they do is entirely consistent with the principles of sustainable development.

There are certain fundamental reforms that are necessary to ensure that every development decision is in full accord with vision of sustainable development. This is the where the PA 21 comes in. It defines a set of action measures that will lead stakeholders to fully subscribe to the wisdom of sustainable development. It lays down key interventions that stakeholders will need to commit to because failure to do so would mean that sustainable development will remain an illusion for the Philippines.

Sustainable development will therefore be a product of two enabling factors: first, the inherent contributions of the key actors by way of what they would normally do and have normally done, which by their very nature are already SD oriented and second, stakeholder commitments to strategic reform initiatives and key outcomes that will lay down the long-term foundation for sustainable development in the country.

At another level, integration is undertaken in terms of the simultaneous consideration of all the dimensions of sustainable development in development decision-making. Therefore, the development interventions will be made holistic by addressing its many facets. For instance, a proposed economic-oriented measure will be examined for and its social, environmental and political ramifications accordingly taken into account.

Multistakeholdership and Counterparting

The PA 21 document is collectively owned by all the stakeholders who participated in its process and those which they represent. In this respect, the responsibility and accountability for implementing the identified measures shall be the responsibility of all these stakeholders who shall act in a spirit of collaboration and partnership. Producing the intended results shall likewise be their joint accountability.

Thus, the PA 21 action agenda will be an agglomeration of the initiatives of government, business and civil society. Consistent with PA 21′s recognition of the functional specialization and differentiation of the three realms of society, each key actor will have their corresponding roles in implementing pertinent action agenda items. A key actor may have a primary role in some action agenda and a supporting role in the others. The success of such partnership arrangements is contingent on the mutual respect and acceptance of each key actor of their differing perspectives and talents. Collective ownership can only be legitimized by counterparting mechanisms within a workable system of consensus-building.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Given the enormity of the sustainable development challenge vis-à-vis the available resources, PA 21 emphasizes creative and innovative strategies and solutions to the numerous development dilemma confronting the country. The PA 21 action agenda is catalytic with the potential to stimulate incremental changes whose cumulative impact shall be significant. It will also maximize opportunities for creating synergies by ensuring complementation among the various action agenda items. Many of the changes called for in PA 21 will require interventions that would not necessarily imply the flow of significant resources.

Operationalization and Results Orientation

PA 21 must move beyond the rhetorics of sustainable development. It must be identified with doing and achieving results. The PA 21 action agenda shall consist of measures that are doable, concrete, focused and strategic and will provide the enabling mechanisms and conditions for sustainable development.

The enhanced PA 21 attempts to clearly define the intended results of the action agenda. The focus of the implementation will be the actual delivery of results. In this respect, the monitoring and evaluation system will not delve on activities but on outcomes and outputs. Therefore, PA 21 will not detail all the regular activities that serve as the key actors’ contributions to sustainable development. For this matter, PA 21 will no longer outline activities that are part and parcel of the existing mandate of government agencies because such programs are actually expected of them even without the PA 21. Instead, PA 21 highlights the importance of the outcomes resulting from the successful implementation of such activities or programs.

Systems Orientation

The pursuit of sustainable development will involve a broad change process. PA 21 can be viewed as a comprehensive governance reform initiative. As such, PA 21′s implementation mechanisms will need to be formulated using a systems perspective, taking into account the different elements of change management—structure, technology and people. Therefore, the interventions identified in the PA 21 action agenda will need to tackle all these elements to be effective. A proposed reform measure should as much as possible and as applicable will need to have an element of institutional change, process change and behavioral change.

Dual Nature of Sustainable Development Reform

The journey towards sustainable development involves both a transition and a paradigm shift. The costs of years of unsustainable development are already exacting their toll on current development variables. There is therefore a sense of urgency to the imminent danger of unsustainable patterns of development that demands quick action right here right now. These issues cannot wait for the formulation of plans, for adequate legislation, for institutional restructuring and other long term changes. As appropriate, these would require working within the prevailing structures and processes with some effort to strengthen them.

On the other hand, sustainable development simply cannot be achieved by mere palliative, corrective measures. It recognizes the merit of preventive and pro-active interventions more than reactionary and after-the-fact responses. A paradigm shift is also definitely an arduous process that cannot happen overnight. PA 21′s response to this twin dilemma is a two-pronged strategy in defining the action agenda. On the one hand is a focused agenda according to priority themes (outlined in section 5.4) that pose imminent threats to sustainable development. On the other hand is a set of measures (outlined in general terms in section 5.2 below and the specifics in part II of the document) that will effectively lay down the enabling conditions for bringing the changes that will make sustainable development a way of life for everyone, woven into the fabric of the daily life of Filipinos.

5.2 Policy Imperatives

The policy thrusts enunciated in the following sections adhere to the integrated, multidimensional view of development. It goes beyond the traditional sector orientation of development efforts which tended to bring on a myopic view and a tendency to merely firefight issues and problems instead of providing lasting and comprehensive solutions to them. Sector orientation has likewise resulted in a bloated bureaucracy with many agencies overlapping on many concerns. Each agency’s championing of their respective sectors have resulted in the burgeoning list of plans, projects and programs, spreading the limited resources of the government quite thinly with adverse effects on its ability to deliver concrete and tangible results.

The PA 21 endeavors to offer a better alternative by clustering the broad policy directions into a smaller set of imperatives contextualised within the four goal elements of sustainable development. This will hopefully accomplish two things. First, it should highlight the necessity of being strategic and focused on a narrower set of priorities to increase the effectiveness of development interventions, given limitations on resources in the face of the enormity of the nation’s problems. Second, it forces a recognition of the interlinkages among development goals and outcomes and therefore the need to deal with them in an integrated fashion to avoid compensating effects. The policy clusters represent a coherent set of measures that effectively addresses cross-cutting concerns. The pursuit of each goal is made holistic by the integration of elements pertinent to the other goal elements, a concrete response to the recognition that the various goals are inextricably linked. Hence, instead of cross-referencing the individual policy thrusts, the economic goal is reinforced and actually imbedded in social, governance and environmental dimensions [referred to in brackets]. All these dimensions are effectively interwoven with each other, one cannot be achieved without the others just like the four legs of a chair.

This way, the PA 21 is not expected to result in more or additional programs nor a long stretch of strategies. To a certain extent, it even contains fewer strategic priorities that can be backed up by adequate resources. It builds on sound strategies and programs and seeks to eliminate ineffectual ones. Taken individually, the policy measures enunciated in the following sections are not altogether new but is rather a blend of old ideas with a sprinkling of new proposals that have emerged from present day challenges as well as ways of doing things differently and more effectively. In some cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, a more aggressive pursuit of proven formulae holds the key. For instance, PA 21 rests on the vibrancy and vitality of multstakeholder mechanisms and the critical importance of building synergies, not only among and between programs but also among the key actors of sustainable development and members of society.

While a significant degree of transformation is vital, certain fundamentals remain the same. While there is a need to be more vigilant about environmental and political causes, the country would still need to grow economically at a respectable rate. Hence, growth-enhancing policies such as modernization, financial intermediation, investment promotion will continue to be part of the policy thrusts. Albeit, these policies will need to be pursued with respect for ecological carrying capacity, the right of citizens to self-determination, among other principles of sustainable development. Armed with a vision that can unite the nation, PA 21 does not claim to offer an entirely new alternative but instead offers a more coherent and holistic policy framework.

Creating and Sustaining a Viable and Sound Economy

We need to create a stable macroeconomic environment by instituting aggregate fiscal discipline, promoting ecologically sound and socially responsible corporate governance in a free enterprise and open market environment, strengthening domestic financial and capital markets, and maintaining industrial peace. [governance]

We need to generate a steady flow of income generating opportunities by diversifying income sources and markets; generating, enhancing, preserving and facilitating employment; improving the overall investment climate and access to investment and productive opportunities, developing entrepreneurship among Filipinos, promoting fair trade and deepening financial intermediation to support local businesses. [economic]

We need to modernize key sectors to enable the country to compete in a rapidly globalizing world while protecting the welfare of our citizens from the vagaries of greater economic integration. Modernization of agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and services will serve as the springboard for raising the productivity and improving the capacity for innovation of local industries, through harnessing appropriate science and technology, intensifying R&D, accelerating infrastructure development using an integrated approach that simultaneously addressing efficiency, equity and environmental issues, and developing the country’s vast pool of human resources. The pursuit of modernization will need to be circumscribed by the limits of the carrying capacity of nature and consequently by the welfare not only of the present but future generations [economic, ecological, social].

We need to change and raise awareness on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption through the range of command and control, regulatory and market based, economic instruments [ecological and social] as well as direct investments in clean and resource-efficient technologies [economic, ecological].

We need to protect consumer and general public welfare as well as workers’ rights by promoting corporate social responsibility.

Promoting Social Cohesion and Harmony

We need to seek harmony in diversity and cultivate the spirit of fairness and equity in society by democratizing access to productive assets including the expeditious completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform, strengthening institutions of justice, and promoting the peaceful co-existence of all segments of society. We need to promote the formation of social and human capital by expanding access to educational opportunities, family welfare services, electricity, health, nutrition, sanitation, housing and other basic social services especially for vulnerable groups, strengthening the family as a basic social unit, increasing opportunities for creative pursuit in the arts, culture and sports to fully develop human potentials, and affirming the cultural, moral and spiritual foundations of our society. [social, governance, ecological]

We need to work towards achieving more sustainable population level, structure, growth and distribution so that the benefits of development are not overstepped by the requirements of a burgeoning population. [ecological]

We need to pursue a truly broad-based development strategy so that the benefits of progress will reach each and every Filipino, across all ages, ethnicities, gender and age; significantly reduce poverty and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. [economic]

Protecting Ecological Integrity

We need to protect the environment and promote the sustainable management of natural resources by ensuring the enforcement of or compliance to domestic and international environmental laws through collaborative efforts of government, business and civil society. [ecological, governance]

We need to promote the wider adoption of ecosystems and communities as the basic units for natural resource management [ecological]

We need to promote proper pricing and valuation of resources through the wider application of market based and regulatory instruments [economic]

We need to expand the availability of alternative livelihood opportunities for sectors that have traditionally relied on natural resources for their economic survival.[economic]

We need to institute proactive measures to redress the degraded state of many natural resources and thwart imminent threats to protected areas and other critical environmental systems [ecological]

We need to harness the full potentials of science and technology and indigenous knowledge systems in achieving greater efficiency in resource use while adopting the precautionary principle in managing environmental problems [economic, ecological]

We need to propagate the view of environment as a common heritage, intricately woven into the fabric of the Filipino way of life, culture and traditions. [social]

Institutionalizing Responsible/Good Governance

We need to mobilize and secure the highest political commitment to sustainable development as the governing framework for long term development [governance]

We need to establish a sound moral foundation for governance by promoting the highest standards of performance, accountability and transparency of government, business and civil society institutions. [governance]

We need to strengthen democratic institutions and promote national unity by deepening the culture of empowerment, devolution, decentralization, meaningful participation, inclusion, collaboration and partnerships. [social]

We need to promote better coordination among political decision-makers through multi-stakeholder mechanisms and effect the rational integration of plans, policies and programs [governance, ecological, social, economic]

We need to strengthen local governance and develop capacities of local institutions to deliver sustainable development [governance]

We need to secure peace and order in every community by improving law enforcement and the administration of justice. [social]

5.3 Program Thrusts

Priority Themes

The state of SD in the Philippines suggests that the country will be in for a long haul from its current patterns to a more sustainable form of development. In this light, there is merit in identifying areas requiring urgent attention. The consultations on PA 21 produced six priority themes: poverty eradication, managing globalization, protection of ecological integrity, promotion of social equity, securing peace and order, and institutionalization of empowerment and good governance, not only in government but in all sectors of society. These are the critical challenges that pose imminent threats to the country’s prospects for sustainable development and needing of immediate solutions. At the same time, these six areas shall provide the anchor for all our development efforts as each represent a key element in securing the good life for all Filipinos over the next 25 years at least.

Eradicating Poverty

Poverty is a central concern of sustainable development. Poverty is more than just lack of income or wealth. It has several dimensions, including the social, cultural, ecological, political, and spiritual, apart from the pure economic dimension. This has become quite evident in some societies where economic poverty has been largely overcome, but where individuals and families have felt an inadequacy in their social, ecological, political, cultural and/or spiritual well being.

The link between poverty and the environment has particularly received strong attention in sustainable development discussions, particularly because the harm from environmental degradation invariably falls more heavily on the poor. At the same time, poverty drives people into environmentally degrading economic activities, as in the uplands, the coastal fisheries, or small-scale mining. The poverty-environment nexus is thus a critical front in the pursuit of sustainable development, making poverty reduction a critical concern in the country’s sustainable development agenda.

The key to bringing down poverty in the country is to attain sustained economic growth, and for such growth to be broad-based and ecologically sound. The latter is important in light of the fact that poverty in the country is largely a rural phenomenon, with more than two out of three poor Filipinos living in the rural areas, and incidence of poverty in rural areas being more than twice that in the urban.

Philippine Agenda 21 proposes a poverty reduction agenda that includes measures to create an enabling economic environment for sustained, broad-based and ecologically-sound growth; improve employment, productivity and incomes; and attain food security.

Managing Globalization

Globalization includes all the following processes: a) flows of short term foreign investment based on speculative currency trading; b) longer term foreign direct investment; c) world trade, with policies aimed at further reducing barriers to trade; d) share of global production and trade associated with transnational corporations; e) global interconnectedness of production, due in part to changes in technology of production and servicing; f) the movement of people for trade and labor purposes; and g) global reach of new forms of communication, including television and the internet. Thus globalization processes maybe grouped into three major components; (a) international trade and investments; b) information and communication technology; c) human resources dynamics.

Globalization has and continues to lead to the growing integration of economies and societies around the world and has great implications for sustainable development. While it has great potential to improve living standards for all, it is a matter of great and increasing concern that not all countries are reaping the benefits of globalization, and some may even be falling behind. The Philippines has been facing special difficulties in responding to the challenges and opportunities of globalization. Serious financial crises, insecurity, poverty and inequality and environmental degradation in the Philippines have all been partly or fully attributed to globalization.

Towards freer trade and investment, the government has implemented substantial trade and investment policy reforms during the last two decades following a three-track approach involving unilateral, regional and multilateral modalities. The reforms improved domestic resource allocation, increased productivity and competitiveness of manufacturing industries, expanded exports and facilitated the integration of the country in global markets. Yet the growth of the industry sector, particularly manufacturing, has not been robust compared to expectations. The effect of international trade on the country’s economic growth depends largely on how trade is linked to domestic economic activity. The fundamental policy issue for the government is not the question of more or less trade liberalization, but how effective the country is in promoting sustainable development in its participation in the global trading system.

At the national level, there are specific measures that need to be instituted to seize the potential of globalization to contribute to sustainable development. The overarching objective should be for the country to maximize the benefits from the globalization processes, specifically by protecting the most vulnerable in society and ensure that their well-being improves over time. This will require strong governance in terms of government’s ability to assert its national interest in global agreements primarily those concerning international trade and investments as well as identify vulnerable industry sectors and segments of society and address their problems. Safety nets for weak and vulnerable industries and displaced workers should be designed to transform them not only into survivors—but eventually into winners. A broad range of physical infrastructure is needed by the country to be able to compete globally and to maintain its comparative advantage. Infrastructure should also respond to the needs of vulnerable sectors and for society to adjust to the challenges and opportunities that globalization brings. It should improve productivity, commodity diversification and competitiveness by enhancing access to, accuracy, timeliness and coverage of information on countries and financial markets.

The increasing integration of economies has led to the globalization of labor. First, mobility of labor across national borders has increased resulting in the considerable employment of Filipino workers overseas. Current estimates put overseas workers at over 5milllion excluding over 2 million immigrant workers. There are considerable benefits and costs. Second, Filipino workers have become susceptible not only to domestic but also external shocks and disturbances. Developments in major trading partners have amplified impacts on local employment. The assurance of the welfare of Filipino workers in the context of globalization processes is important in sustainable development.

Achieving Social Equity

Greater social equity can be attained through the accumulation of social and human capital. Social capital, comprising of voluntary and non-coercive forms of social regulation, is essentially the degree to which individuals within a community are willing to subordinate self-interests for the sake of common good and is therefore manifested in the dynamic relations among persons in a family, in a community, and in society. Human capital, on the other hand, is embodied in skills and knowledge of an individual.

Social capital is anchored on the formation of positive values (reciprocity, honesty, community service, cooperativeness, trust) where every Filipino aspires for excellence not only for himself but equally for the welfare of their community and the nation as a whole. Achieving greater social equity will involve formation of social capital side by side with human capital. It will necessarily involve interventions to increase people’s access to health, nutrition, education, housing and other basic social services; arts, culture, sports , moral and spiritual development; gender equity and sustainable population management. Pursuant to the goal of human development, social harmony can be achieved by catering to non-basic higher needs of individuals. Securing these needs help develop positive values such as cooperation, commitment to excellence, sense of community, responsibility, sense of purpose and a generally higher level of self-esteem and feeling of well-being.

Securing Peace and Solidarity

In recent years, peace has been better understood by being categorized as “negative peace” and “positive peace.” Negative peace is defined as the absence of conflict, while positive peace considers the presence of economic political socio-cultural conditions that build long-term harmony and solidarity in society.

The causes or situations that lead to un-peace, particularly armed conflict, are most often poverty and great inequality as well as the political and social marginalization of groups that may be due to ethnic and religious differences.

As underdevelopment breeds conflict, on the other hand, areas subject to armed conflict and made insecure by the continuing threat of violence, can hardly move forward to development. Rehabilitation cannot even be effectively undertaken in situations when humanitarian relief efforts are still the main concern. A basic solidarity among groups in a society, now given the new name “social capital” is understood as a key ingredient for development.

The achievement of sustainable development would therefore be the building of a positive peace, based on the creation of just economic political structures and a culture of tolerance and promotion of diversity. Before getting to this state however many of the conflicts that would need to be resolved including protracted armed conflicts would be over access use control or ownership of natural resources such as land, water forest and mineral resources. Environmental degradation is often linked to the pushing out and displacement of local peoples who have extracted resources more sustainably. On the other hand, the diminution of available resources has further aggravated conflicts over them.

The following are the major areas of concern with regard to peace and solidarity in the country:

  1. The persistence of ideological armed conflicts waged by the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
  2. The existence of economically and politically marginalized groups particularly the Muslims and the indigenous peoples’
  3. Conflicts over natural resources including ancestral domain areas, with pressures from settlers as well as large multinational corporations. At the same time there is continuing rapid deterioration of these resources
  4. The lack of human rights awareness, concern and protection on the part of the general populace. Instead there is acceptance of shortcuts and violations of rights just to finish problems of crime and insurgency.
  5. The emergence of “global terrorism” and increasing use of acts of terrorism in the country, resulting in a global anti-terrorism response that verges on paranoia and the trampling of human rights of “suspects”
  6. The problem of criminality that survives with strong political connections and that now tends to influence the outcome of elections. Thus we have an infrastructure of jueteng with the money to make its protectors win; there is the threat of narcopolitics arising.
  7. The slow dispensation of justice on many crimes has been an excuse for vigilante actions and the taking up of armed rebellion.
  8. The culture of impunity, with perpetrators of torture and other human rights violators during martial law remaining unpunished and even gaining public positions. There has been no process of truth-telling and reconciliation based on Justice for the victims of martial law.
Maintaining Ecological Integrity

Balancing the needs and activities of the production sectors with the country’s ecological carrying capacity is crucial in attaining long-term sustained growth. Sound management of the country’s natural resources as well as air, water and soil quality should lead to sustained productivity improvements in agriculture, fishery and forestry as well as a better quality of life especially for the poor.

The path towards enhancing the integrity of the country’s ecological domain will involve heightened, sustained and innovative implementation, monitoring and enforcement of pertinent laws and programs already in place. There is no shortage of policies and legislation on the environment. A renewed Philippine Agenda 21 in these areas will involve engendering heightened collaboration of stakeholders and other influential sectors like the media and the church, ensuring effective support measures such as knowledge management, legal assistance, environmental business development, environmental accountability systems, and sustainable tourism standards. Strategic natural resource management issues such as those related to mining, biotechnology, marine jurisdictional delimitation and multiple resource use conflicts have to be resolved. There is also a need to reflect the growing scarcity of natural resources, particularly in pricing and taxation policy.

Promoting Empowerment and Good Governance

Empowerment is the degree to which individuals and groups in a society are able to influence collective decisions and actions. Governance is the complex of decisions and actions that statutory and customary regulatory institutions in society in both the public sector (i.e., government), private and civil society sectors (i.e., businesses, NGOs, POs and PVOs), and local communities, make and do to control human behavior and harness society’s capacities and wealth for the common good.

Sustainable development presupposes a free, informed, and historically aware society that is always able (or has the ready capacity) to choose its paths and pathways of economic, ecological and socio-cultural transformations, to best ensure the summum bonum of present and future generations.

Empowerment is a precondition of informed choices. To be informed and able to choose the opportunities and threats to transformations, as it does to make and assert a choice on them. Good governance is a precondition to empowerment as empowerment is to good governance. Good governance is possible only in a society of empowered people and no people can hope to be empowered in the absence of good governance.

Thus, sustainable development requires an empowered people living under a system of good governance. There are two approaches to address the opportunities and threats to empowerment and good governance in the Philippines: (1) technical, and (2) institutional. The first involves mobilizing a mix of technical interventions that would enhance the opportunities and reduce the threats. The second recognizes that even with technical tools being available, they can be useless and ineffective because of fundamental incapacities among relevant institutions to make definitive decisions and actions on the opportunities and threats.

Institutional capacities are constrained by how much public trust and interests are reposed on institutions. They are a function of the legitimacy, public confidence and credibility of institutions. Legitimacy refers to the degree that an institution is recognized as a conveyor of public interest. Its publics recognize its authority and responsibility to decide and act on their behalf and for their interests. Public confidence is the extent that an institution has its publics’ confidence that it works to protect their interests and promote their welfare, and only theirs. It is not corrupt and is not corrupted as a conveyor of public will. Credibility is the degree that an institution has public confidence on its ability to execute its mandate soundly, in a manner that conveys the best interests of the many. Shortage on any of the three diminishes the capacity of institutions to articulate and convey public choices and interests on development. It diminishes their ability to ensure good governance of society and country.

To gain legitimacy, the core concern is the degree that the public is made fully aware of what institutions are doing to promote the common good. They need to convince their publics that they are agencies conveying their interests. These need to keep their publics

To gain public trust, the core concern is public confidence that institutions will seek only to serve the public’s interests. They will not use their mandates as cover for graft, as opportunities for corruption, or as machinations to realign public rents for the benefit of a few. Critical to this would be the strengthening of public accountability of institutions.

Credibility requires that institutions decide and act with competence. And competence is best had if institutions involve as many stakeholders on their decisions and actions. This, because stakeholders’ participation will (1) allow the institutions to more sharply relate their decisions and actions to public interests, and (2) expand the institutions’ array of wisdom and skills to make decisions or embark on actions. In both instances, the likelihood of decisions and actions being effective would be improved, and hence, too, the credibility of the institutions. Processes, institutional capacities and policies promoting transparency, accountability and participation among and across sectors and institutions, would be crucial to promoting empowerment and good governance in the Philippines.

Annexes 1-6 present the detailed matrices of action agenda under each of the priority themes. In line with the above section, the matrices are expectedly a mix of old and new ideas. Some of the agenda items have been part of the previous plans. There are two reasons for this: one is that while such action measures have been pursued in the past, they have not been carried to full completion or compliance, and two, the continued relevance, soundness and efficacy of these measures have been reaffirmed in the consultations by experts and practitioners in the field. However, if previously these action measures have been pursued for their own sake, the PA 21 now breathes new life into these activities by circumscribing them within the six strategic areas identified in the various consultations, thereby providing the initiatives their much needed context and clarity in purpose.

These “old” agenda are interspersed with new initiatives that effectively makes the PA 21 the interstice towards sustainable development. These new initiatives fall into two categories: new, incremental activities in the sense that they have not been actually tried or operationalized before and new activities that represent innovative ways of going about the implementation of old ideas. These new initiatives comprising the strategic reform agenda establishes the incremental value or additionality of the Philippine Agenda 21′s development platform.

Strategic Reform Directions

The concept of integration and incrementalism suggest that the agenda for sustainable development will necessarily be a marriage of old and new. To achieve SD, some things must change, others can just stay the course. Some things must continue while unsustainable practices must be stopped altogether to pave the way for newer, more effective and cost efficient interventions. Certainly, change can also come from doing good things much better.

While SD will involve decisive reforms, the PA 21 approach will build on past successes, things that have already worked. As far as practicable and when merited, PA 21 will need to work its way through existing structures, processes and systems. Development activities cannot just be put on hold nor can institutions and individuals summarily stop what they are currently doing. Many existing initiatives are laudable in their own right and are already consistent with sustainable development principles. However, operationalizing an integrated and holistic policy framework outlined above require key reforms. In the interest of efficiency and effectiveness, the PA 21 outlines a reform agenda that focuses on things that need to change. It zeroes in on actions that stakeholders need to commit to and not on things that they expected to do in the first place, on commitments rather than contributions as defined in the guiding concepts (see paragraph on integration). In keeping with systems orientation, operationalization and results orientation, the reforms are organized into key elements of change: structure, technology (covers systems, processes, tools, methodologies, policies, tasks) and people (behavior, skills, knowledge and value systems).

OVERALL THRUST: Fully adopt, through a formal directive, sustainable development as the overarching framework and vision for long-term development in the country.

As discussed lengthily in Chapter 1, sustainable development is a new development paradigm, a fundamental rethinking of the way we see and do development, a fresh perspective on the ultimate purpose of development in people’s lives. Essentially, it defines what development truly ought to be, for whom, by whom and how. The PA 21 advocates a development with a human face, development for and by the people, driven by a set of values that would enable principled decision-making. It offers an alternative development framework, approach and philosophy that strike at the very foundation and core of current development thinking and process as a whole. This puts SD on a higher plane of development interventions. To transform it into reality, it has to permeate all activities and decisions through its adoption as the ultimate guiding development framework.

What will this thrust mean operationally? What are its practical ramifications and specific manifestations?

A. Changes in Structures for Development Decision-making

Overall Direction: Reform or establish appropriate structures that truly empower all sectors of society by enabling genuinely participatory and multistakeholder decision-making and allow for the integrated delivery of development services.

The following reforms essentially challenge the following beliefs: government, business and civil society are necessarily adversaries, politicians always act in the best interest of their constituents, national government should always prevail over local governments in the determination of what is best, non-government organizations should remain as watchdogs of government, etc.

    1. Expand the involvement of and fully harness the contribution of multistakeholder mechanisms in towards integrated development decision-making through the following:
    2. Enhancing the functionality of existing mechanisms by clarifying or redefining the parameters of engagement (e.g. roles, contributions and accountabilities of and expectations from key players, protocols for decision making and conflict resolution, membership accreditation, level of commitment, etc.). Many multistakeholder mechanisms have not effectively transcended the adversarial nature of the relationship between government and other sectors. New parameters of engagement should be geared towards effecting genuine collaboration and partnerships, mutual acceptance of collective responsibilities and accountabilities, counterparting and consensus-building. There is a need to move these mechanisms beyond serving as venues for defending respective parochial interests towards seeking the greater common good. The type of decisions to be made (e.g. plans, legislation, policies, projects, programs, budget allocations, etc.) may dictate/influence the nature of these parameters. A workable and widely acceptable model or multistakeholder framework of engagement should be formulated on the basis of lessons learned from experience in these mechanisms.
    3. Seeking alternative modes for civil society engagement in areas where government structures are governed by charters (e.g. NEDA Board) that preclude formal membership of civil society.
    4. Pushing for the establishment of formal accreditation or self-regulation mechanisms among civil society through coalitions and network groups to establish the legitimacy of specific civil society advocacies and ensure the quality and regularity of their involvement in major decision-making processes. Many multistakeholder structures have been established following the popularization of the doctrines of empowerment and good governance in the early 1990s, but there is a critical need to look at how many of the existing interagency groups, committees, councils, consultative groups, technical working groups, multi-sectoral planning committees actually do empower stakeholders. Some of these structures now exist nominally having been established upon the dictates of an executive issuance or as a means to pacify pressure groups’ call for more participation. How many of these mechanisms actually become instrumental in pushing for relevant policy measures, plans and programs is yet undetermined. There is a need to reinvent or where necessary, dissolve, mechanisms that are no longer responsive to the purpose of their establishment. The efficacy of these structural mechanisms will have to be pushed further, beyond serving as venues for token consultations to become settings for meaningful collaboration and partnerships, counter-parting, dialogue, consensus building, principled and joint decision-making, conflict mitigation and resolution, negotiations, and confidence-building. Participation in these multistakeholder structures and mechanisms should be understood to come with certain accountabilities, hence, participation should be determined by willingness and ability to accept such accountabilities, putting the concept of “ownership” of decisions on a higher and deeper level.
  1. Restructure key decision-making mechanisms towards effecting genuinely integrated, participatory, holistic and multidimensional decision-making. This may involve expanding the composition of interagency bodies to ensure representation of all the relevant dimensions of development (economic, environmental, social and governance). The core structures can be supported by mechanisms (such as experts roundtables, consultative groups, panel of advisors) that will allow engagement of experts from relevant academic disciplines (anthropology, sociology, physical sciences, political science, law, behavioral sciences, natural sciences, etc.) as well as otherwise disinterested groups to ensure that informed decisions are made, not only in consideration of harmonizing particular stakes and interests but from an objective evaluation of pertinent issues.
  2. Activate, strengthen or create structures that allow for seamless vertical and horizontal coordination within and across governance levels (among national government agencies-e.g. Cabinet Cluster System, among executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government-e.g. LEDAC, among national-regional-local agencies-RDC, among local governments-the Leagues) towards achieving the genuine harmonization of planning and synchronization of development activities at all levels. These structures should subsume the work of related sectoral task forces, councils, commissions and committees to streamline and at the same time effect better, integrated decision-making.
  3. Replicate or upscale working models of interjurisdictional decision-making structures that operationalize planning and programming based on appropriate resource management units or shared ecosystems (such as watershed, river basin, lakes and other natural water systems, ancestral domains, protected areas, agricultural zones)
  4. Reshape current government reengineering efforts as a form of “organizing for sustainable development” wherein decisions on appropriate structures are guided by the key result areas and goals of sustainable development rather than driven primarily by downsizing concerns. Slowly ease out sector orientation in favor of goal orientation. There is a need to explore the practicability of merging departments that deliver similar and related services (such as those that provide health and basic social welfare services and those catering to the poor segments of society-DSWD, DOH, HLURB, NAPC, POPCOM, those that perform economic management functions-DBM, DOF, NEDA, those that deal with the productive sector-DTI, DA, DENR and those concerned about governance and administration-COA, CSC, etc.) as well as separation of conflicting functions of particular departments (e.g environmental protection from resource management functions of the DENR). Consequently, all agencies shall have a defined core function in terms of a particular dimension and goal of sustainable development with subfunctions addressing all the other goals and dimensions.Bureaucratic right-sizing should be done to basically reflect the basic role of government as a provider of public goods. The interventions of government should be relegated to matters of setting goals and standards that champion the interest of the greater majority, creating incentives for the right decisions and behavior, performance monitoring and improving access to information.
  5. Recognize the primacy of local government units as the instrumentality for delivering sustainable development. Following the principle of subsidiarity and the right to self-determination, empower LGUs in implementing sustainable development. All development interventions within a locality will need to be worked through and with existing local structures. The role of national government agencies in implementing programs and projects within the jurisdiction of LGUs should be basically to support local processes while guarding the interest of the greater majority in society.

B. Innovations in Systems, Policies, Processes and other Decision-making Mechanisms

Overall Direction: Enable the formulation of ‘better’ decisions, in terms of being holistic and multidimensional, long-term in perspective, fair and just to all concerned.

Essentially, the following reforms challenge the beliefs that underlie traditional decision-making, such as: growth trickles down, environmental effects can be mitigated so we can grow now and pay later, markets always work for the best interest of society, every new administration should have its own new plan, sustainable development is an add-on, corporate social and environmental responsibility is a matter of choice or an option for the private sector, largely separate from their economic activities, etc.

6. Adopt the PA21 as the long-term development framework plan that will guide the MTPDP and planning efforts at all levels for the next 25 years. Alternatively, work towards legislating the adoption of the SD framework in all decision-making processes (a.k.a. Sustainable Development Act). On the basis of the PA 21, formulate a full-pledged long term plan, one that will withstand changes in political administrations and will provide the concrete vision and blueprint for the future of the Philippines as a nation, not only for the present but the succeeding generations of Filipinos to come.

The 25 year plan will be an articulation of what we want to achieve as a nation in terms of the kind of communities within, the quality of life and well-being of its citizens and overall, the state of Philippine society that we need to strive for. Then it should lay down the fundamental principles and strategies that will serve as guideposts that can be carried through political changes, fads in international development discourse and the dictates of external forces.

Traditionally, the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) is the basic guiding document for development decisions–be it in the form of a policy, program, project or activity. It is an articulation of the Philippines’ medium term development goals, policy thrusts, targets and strategies. As such, if sustainable development is to become the governing development paradigm, it will necessarily have to be integrated into the MTPDP. This integration must go beyond the mere inclusion in the MTPDP of additional paragraphs on aspects of sustainable development. It would call for the mainstreaming of SD principles and parameters such that these effectively define the thrust and focus of the strategies in the plan. While mainstreaming SD imperatives into the MTPDP is a necessary step in pursuing a truly sustainable development path, it will not be enough. The MTPDP being medium term remains captive to a political process that see periodic changes in administration, often accompanied by changing set of priorities every six years.

For many decades, the country has actually been bereft of a real stable development framework. This reality is inimical to sustainable development because it demands a long-term perspective on planning and policy-making. There was an attempt to adopt a long-term development strategy in 1998, unfortunately, the effort did not get off the ground. PA 21 can fill in this gap as it outlines the elements of a long-term development framework and approach that can inform all other plans in the country. The operative term here is overarching, implying that all decision-making processes will need to conform with the sustainable development framework embodied in its vision, goals, principles, parameters and indicators.

7. Institutionalize the use of a variety of analytical and policy tools that will force or ensure the consistency of development interventions with the overarching framework of SD.

7.1. Mandate the adoption of the SD operational framework (vision, goals, principles, parameters and indicators) as articulated in this ‘enhanced PA 21′ as the template for formulating and analyzing plans, development policies and programs to ensure consistency with the vision of sustainable development. The four goal dimensions of SD (creating a viable and sound economy, promoting social cohesion, protecting ecological integrity and institutionalizing responsible governance can be developed into a 4-way test on SD.

7.2. Incorporate of the SD vision, principles and parameters into agency mission statements.

7.3. Mandate all agencies to formulate sectoral SD strategies that will form part of their annual plan and budget submissions. Alignment with SD shall be a key parameter for assessing plans and budgets.

7.4. Promote the further development and broader use of environmental and technology impact assessments, health impact assessment, extended cost-benefit analysis, full cost accounting, risk assessment and other methodologies that allow simultaneous consideration of SD dimensions in various decision-making processes. The combination of these tools should eventually evolve into a sustainable development impact assessment tool which should be institutionalized as the analytical framework for all proposed legislation, policies, international agreements, programs and projects.

7.5. Ensure the harmonization of plans and laws, the synchronization of development activities at all levels and sharing of information among all concerned through the design and adoption of applicable approaches, modalities (other than coordination meetings and desk review of documents) and analytical tools. Minimizing the conflicts among development activities should channel energies and resources towards the more aggressive pursuit and implementation of much needed reforms. 7.6. Regularize the budget for programs that will effectively capacitate agencies and other stakeholders in ensuring the consistency of their plans, programs and activities with SD such as budget for putting in place environmental management systems, SD indicator system, integration of environmental management and social mobilization components of programs and projects, coordination and networking, conduct of impact assessments, setting up of multidisciplinary consultative groups, etc.

7.7. Develop procedures and indicators, guided by SD parameters outlined Section 3.2 of this document, that will incorporate SD considerations into all relevant government regulatory systems (e.g. business permitting and licensing systems, building code, sanitation and health standards, food and drug certification, etc.)

Currently, the MTPDP provide the broad parameters for development actions. There are official mechanisms that forces consistency of activities with the MTPDP such as the government justice system and regulatory framework with its wide range of rules and policing procedures, the review procedures and policies under the ambit of the NEDA committees, the budgeting system with its set of criteria for assessing budget proposals, the various components of the economic incentive structure (e.g taxes, tariff, credit), and other agency level mechanisms. SD concerns can be built into these existing mechanisms. New mechanisms can also be put in place. Individual agencies will have to be capacitated in the use of tools for consistency checks of their plans and activities with the SD framework.

In order to succeed in our quest for sustainable development, Filipinos need to rally behind and unite on a common vision. Agreement on the set of goals, principles and parameters and indicators will help unify all efforts of members of society. The PA 21 has already laid down all these elements. It remains a matter of aggressively pushing for their recognition and concrete adoption as the primary criteria in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans, policies, programs, projects and other stakeholder decisions.

There could be several possible modalities for using the “template”, one is by using them straightforward in a matrix format as a form of checklist. Alternatively, methodologies can be searched or developed to translate individual principles and parameters into more specific analytical gadgets and tools. In using the “template” the critical needs would be to come up with assessment tools to determine consistency of development interventions against the principles and parameters

8. Reorient monitoring, reporting and evaluation system towards sustainable development at all governance levels.

8.1. Institutionalize SD reporting and officially publish regular national and local State of SD Reports with due prominence as currently accorded the national income accounts.

8.2. Streamline monitoring, reporting and evaluation systems currently in place to reduce duplication of efforts at various governance levels and focus on key SD results. Mandate the review by all agencies, NSCB and NSO in particular, priorities for data collection, analysis, and dissemination in consideration of efficiency and relevance to SD

8.3. Refocus MRE efforts to provide more emphasis to strengthening local SD MRE systems. Such systems should serve as basis for formulating reward and recognition scheme for SD adherents. This may build upon the Local Development Watch monitoring system of the DILG. The MRE system should be designed and directed towards enabling the transformation of all local communities into sustainable communities with appropriately designed buildings and architecture, green spaces, energy efficient and ecologically sound transportation, efficient land and resource use strategies, managed economic growth, empowered constituents, vibrant partnerships among government, civil society and business, etc.

8.4. Simplify and standardize annual accomplishment reports of government agencies to de-emphasize the reporting of initiatives undertaken and focus more on extent of achievement of performance commitments and key results and targets.

8.5. Design means that will allow more reasonable public access to government records, databases, transactions and contracts

The System of National Accounts is perhaps the most widely known and used MRE system in government. Reinforcing or supplementing the NIA with measures of the other sources of wealth such as environmental, social, cultural and human capital will significantly enhance its SD orientation. Establishment of satellite environmental accounts have been initiated but these needs to be done on a more regular basis. A move should be made to designate more SD indicators to be part of the official income accounting system. In this connection, methodologies for the valuation of the full costs and benefits of environmental and other social services need to be developed and mainstreamed into the system.

SD emphasizes the primacy of human development, hence indices that measure well-being at the per capita level should be given equal if not superior prominence as national income growth. Generation of new data and designation of new statistics is generally very costly, hence, it becomes harder to incorporate additional indicators into the national system. There is therefore a need to review the efficacy of all the indicators covered under the present system with the view of purging those that have become irrelevant and unnecessary to make way for SD oriented indicators.

9. Articulate a decisive stance and strongly advocate policies, programs and legislation that support the effective management of population concerns in the context of the carrying capacity of natural resources and ecosystems.

Population issues tread among arguments for or against the sanctity of personal/private decisions, respect for spiritual beliefs and the negative economic, social and environmental repercussions of a burgeoning population. Instead of evading population issues for fear of alienating sectors of society, these issues need to be confronted with a comprehensive strategy that balances the varying perspectives. It will include measures that involve addressing spatial distribution and structure of the population, engendering informed personal choices thru responsible parenthood, addressing the root causes of population growth (e.g. social norms and poverty) and establishing the population carrying capacities of specific ecosystems.

C. Sector Specific Policies

Overall Direction: Abandon pure sector orientation in planning, policy and programming and adopt goal-oriented strategies and approaches that consider the multidimensionality and interconnectedness of all sectors.

10. Develop a comprehensive framework for the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations and implement a consolidated program that will attack environmental issues in all its economic, social and institutional/governance dimensions.

The program should be based on cooperative environmental management approaches that de-emphasize strict regulation and mandated means of compliance in favor of meeting mutually agreed standards. The range of strategies may include tightening of performance monitoring systems, enlisting greater community and private sector involvement, improving access to information, promoting voluntary or self-regulation, use of market incentives, establishment of appropriate, clear, fair, flexible standards, baselines and benchmarks that are set democratically, etc. The program should also consider codification of all environmentally related legislation. A comprehensive review needs to be undertaken to determine overall implementability and the economic, social and political costs/benefits of existing and pending laws.

11. Mandate all government institutions, as a matter of policy rather than as a good practice, to set up environmental management systems and move towards getting ISO 14001 certification.

12. Devise a viable economic program that protects the integrity of the country’s environment and natural resource endowments, improves overall social welfare and governed by responsible and accountable institutions.

12.1. Formulate a comprehensive employment and livelihood strategy that provides every Filipino a fair chance at securing a good life, more than just meeting economic and subsistence needs. The strategy should tackle concerns on distribution of productive assets, access to education, value systems, cultural dimensions, incentive structures and components of the industrial and economic policy and other driving forces that define the current economic landscape.

12.2. Seriously reconsider the cheap labor policy of government as a way of attracting investments and capitalize more on the knowledge, skills and innate competence of the country’s vast labor force.

12.3. Develop more innovative ways of benefiting from the great demand for Filipino labor abroad, more creative then sending them as direct employees or servants of foreign employers but transforming overseas demand into local opportunities. For instance, instead of mass deployment of workers abroad, the Philippines should develop an international client base willing to come here to receive the services of Filipino workers. Thai massage experts don’t normally go to the US, spa clients go to Bangkok. Relevant industries which are net suppliers of workers abroad can be upgraded to world class standards (e.g health industry, telecommunications) so that foreign clients come to the Philippines instead of our workers forcibly leaving behind their families to work abroad.

13. Formulate a framework plan and policy on sustainable production and consumption

13.1. Create market demand and support for sustainable production and consumption by mobilizing the power of the knowledgeable consumer. This will require significantly higher consumer awareness on SCP through free flow of information and a dependable system of consumer protection.

13.2. Formulate and implement a public disclosure policy to inform consumers on the health, safety, environmental and social impacts of commercial products and services as well as government and civil society programs and projects

13.3. Significantly enhance business access to advances in science and technology to hasten shift to sustainable production patterns that emphasize better rather than more products

13.4. Move towards using life cycle analysis, extended and shared producer responsibility as an integral component of corporate environmental management systems. Broaden established business systems (e.g. accounting, finance, marketing, production) to reflect the full costs and benefits of natural resource use.

13.5. Accelerate the establishment of sustainable/green procurement systems in government, leading by example, to catalyze shift towards sustainable production and consumption

13.6. Devise incentive mechanisms to discourage excessive consumption and wasteful production. Formulate methodologies for assessing current incentive structures and policies that govern production and consumption in terms of impact on the goals of SD and establish a mechanism that will enable the conduct of such a review. Reorient the structure of economic incentives (taxes, tariff, subsidies, etc.) to incorporate environmental, social and governance concerns.

14. Formulate a cohesive and forward looking globalization policy

Globalization is a highly complex phenomenon with many facets. It offers a lot of opportunities but at the same time presents serious challenges. There is an apparent need to abandon the assumption that globalization is inherently good for everyone and that exposing local business to foreign competition on Philippine soil will result in greater efficiency. Rather than bringing competition at home, the international market should be the primary arena for competititon. Steady advances in scientific research and harnessing the power of information technology and the Filipinos’ creativity and capacity for innovation shall be the potent tools of domestic enterprises in conquering the global market. We need to be circumspect about the ideology that market mechanisms generally provide a fair solution to development dilemmas and that there is always a technical quick fix solutions to all problems.

15. Implement the concept of corporate social responsibility within the broader framework of sustainable development. SD, by way of cleaner and socially responsible production, should be the norm for all operations and activities of private businesses.

Businesses have undertaken numerous CSR activities. Many of these have involved efforts to give back to host communities in the form of direct social assistance and support for socially-oriented causes. CSR efforts can be further expanded to consider all the other dimensions of SD—economic and environmental, in terms of support for sustainable production and consumption; social, in terms of provision of fair compensation and comprehensive health, safety and welfare program for employees; governance, in the form of greater openness and accountability as well as democratic and responsible corporate governance.

16. Contextualize science and technology efforts within the framework of integrative paradigms (those that recognize the interplay of nature, human beings and society), while recognizing the importance of indigenous knowledge systems in the formulation of culturally appropriate and environment-friendly technological solutions to development problems.

17. Formulate acceptable framework that establishes creative tripartite and multipartite partnerships as the norm for development governance. Such framework should equally emphasize corporate and civil society governance and define the shared accountabilities and responsibilities of these sectors.

C. Orienting People’s Values and Skills towards SD

Overall Direction: Promote sustainable lifestyles and responsible citizenship among Filipinos

18. Ensure that education is geared towards developing full human potential. The goal of education should not only be confined to securing future employment for Filipinos but in giving them opportunities to be productive and be of service to Philippine society and humanity as a whole.

18.1. Direct curriculum development at all levels towards developing well-rounded skills and knowledge on multiple disciplines and promoting systems thinking, such that each course will provide an understanding of links among environmental, economic, political and social dimensions. Conduct a comprehensive review of all curricula to determine entry points for mainstreaming SD principles.

18.2. Develop and integrate SD modules in curricula at all levels and fields of specialization to reorient value systems towards a recognition of individual responsibilities for SD.

18.3. Create and implement innovative and non-traditional learning methods (e.g. artistic expression, community based and experiential learning ) that will enhance hands-on exposure on SD issues and integrate them with formal methods.

19. Popularize and develop preference for sustainable lifestyles by increasing access to information on sustainable practices at the home, office, academic institutions, community and other settings through the power of media and other creative forms of communication

20. Create innovative reward and compensation systems for environmental services performed by individuals, households and communities 21. Launch a government “saturation” campaign that will bring advocacy for SD across all agencies and across all levels and branches of government. This will involve the mandatory inclusion of SD in all programs of government training institutions, regularizing the budget for SD trainings, integration of SD criteria in competency evaluations of prospective civil service employees, CESOs and Cabinet appointees.

5.4 Legislative Agenda

Towards the Creation of a Sound and Viable Economy
  • Comprehensive Rationalization of tax incentive – fiscal incentives under EO 226 shall be confined to industries that are exporting, catalytic and those that undergo industrial adjustment; universalizes tax incentives or granting of tax incentives to all firms; and prescribe review, while keeping on hold, the implementation of Board of Investment tax exemptions on capital eqpt and spare parts
  • Rationalization of Taxation on the financial sector – restructures gross receipts tax and documentary stamp tax to minimize their cascading effect particularly on frequently traded instruments and assets; eliminates distortions arising from the non-uniform tax treatment of FIs and assets; and rationalizes tax treatment of pension funds, insurance and investment houses to assist in the development of the capital market
  • Road user charges – integrates registration fee and the private motor vehicle tax into road user charge w/c are based on the benefit principle of taxation
  • Amendment to the Apprenticeship Law – seeks to boost the employability of highly skilled workers
  • Amendment to the Productivity Incentives Act of 1990 – corrects the flaws of the existing law w/c discourages labor and management from joining productivity improvement and gain-sharing programs.
  • Expansion and strengthening of existing employment facilitation machinery at the local levels, addressing the need for effective skills and job matching, counseling, recruitment and placement services at the grass roots (Public Employment Services of ESO Bill)
  • Farmland as Collateral Act to improve access of farmers to credit
  • Customs Modernization Act
  • Thoroughly review Executive Order No. 59 and formulate a new executive issuance, in consultation with the private sector to liberalize port management policies and significantly improve efficiency in the transport of goods, cargoes, and passengers
  • Amend the Consumer Act to clarify and strengthen the consumers’ advocate function of DTI,; provide protection against scams such as pyramiding or chain distribution plans; amend price tag regulation to factor-in technological developments (e.g., bar code) and trade liberalization; and regulate online advertising and sales, and complaints handling
  • Enhance the policy and legal environment to promote ICT development and universal access to information and other ICT resources
  • Pursue policies to build the country’s capability to become a knowledge center, achieve its selected market niche in software development and data management, and become the e-services hub in Asia
  • As the primary ICT R&D arm of the DOST, propose for the reorganization of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and expansion to be called Research Center for Information and Communications Technology (RCICT)
  • Support the legislation to establish an ICT Innovation Fund, which will support research, technology transfer, and other advanced science and technology fields outlined in the National Science and Technology Agenda
  • Push for the legislation for stronger protection against computer fraud, software piracy, other forms of violations against privacy and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and other cyber-related fraudulent activities, including acquisition of a domain name over the Internet
  • Push for a legislation to create a separate department, consistent with the “scrap-and-build” policy of the government, to integrate all ICT functions and responsibilities, now dispersed among the different departments and agencies of government, and bring the ICT agenda, based on holistic science and appropriate technology, at the highest level.
  • Pursue amendment of Executive Order No. 125-A, which attached the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to the Department of Transportation and Communication, to facilitate the reorganization of CAB and provide for the membership of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the board (This will enable DOT to actively participate in the formulation of civil aviation policies and in the approval and implementation of ASAs attuned to the demands of the tourism industry)
  • Restructuring of the PNR
  • Omnibus amendments of the PPA Charter
  • Proposed Bill Reorganizing the Telecommunications Commission
  • “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Telecommunication Network Access Fraud and other Similar Fraudulent Deeds ” (Anti-Cloning Act – HB 8430)
  • Promotion and Regulation of Cable Television Operations (Cable Television Rationalization Bill)
  • Amend RA 809 to introduce flexible cane payment system to replacing the current sugar sharing arrangement, and modify sugarcane market sharing arrangements to encourage investments in developing and applying modern production techniques in the sugar industry
  • Amend the Sugra Regulatory Administration (SRA) Charter to transform SRA’s structure and mandate from a regulatory to a developmental agency
  • Restructuring the National Food Authority
  • Magna Carta for Upland Farmers
  • Amendment of the following: (i) Anti-Dumping Act; (ii) Agricultural Tariffication Act; (iii) General Banking Act; (iv) Repeal of LOIs 88 and 790 (limiting the hectarage planted to banana); and (v) Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Charter
  • Implement fully the trade remedy laws on safeguards, countervailing and anti-dumping measures against unfair trade competition in so far as these are socially equitable
Towards Promoting Social Cohesion and Harmony
  • An Act amending subsection (c ) of Sections 73 and 74 of RA 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 and other purposes (HB 00136)
  • Advocate for the passage of the bill restructuring/strengthening the DAR Adjudication Board
  • Omnnibus Education Finance Bill, (ii) National Coordinating Council for Education Bill, (iii) Department of Basic Education Bill (HB 1619)
  • Amend LGC (RA 7160), Section 483, Article 13 Title 5 re Mandatory instead of Optional appointment of Municipal Social Welfare Development Officer
  • Advocate the passage of National Health Facilities Development Bill
  • Advocate the passage of New Population Act (Giving the POPCom the mandate to continue its programs)
  • Health Sector Reform Implementation Act which provides incentives to DOH programs in the areas of health care financing, hospitals systems, local health systems, public health system and health regulations
  • Hospital corporatization bill to convert fiscally and technically viable national government hospitals into corporate entities, in order to promote autonomy and assures provision of quality services and allows the utilization of additional resources for preventive public health programs
  • Accelerated Nutrition Improvement Act to strengthen the national nutrition program, simultaneously with the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Consumer Act of the Philippines
  • Amend PD 79 by incorporating the 1987 Constitutional provision to give couples the responsibility to decide on the number of children to have to meet the demands of responsible parenthood, and adopting the Philippine Population Management Program’s (PPMP) Responsible Parenthood and Sustainable Development framework
  • National Land Use Code to address the issue of high prices of urban lands for housing, promulgate national and regional standards and guidelines, including local model zoning ordinances on land use classification, physical planning, estate development, and zoning
Towards Protecting Ecological Integrity
  • New and Renewable Energy Bill, to enhance use of solar, wind, and microhydro powers as the most cost-effective means to electrify all barangays especially in remote and marginalized areas
  • Barangay Power Association Act (BAPA) mandating all electric cooperatives (ECs) to organize barangay power associations within their coverage areas will be prioritized, in order to strengthen the cooperatives and assure operational efficiency
  • Energy Conservation Act to institutionalize energy conservation and enhance efficient use of energy, and provide incentives for energy conservation projects in the form of tax and duty free importation of capital equipment as well as tax credit on domestic capital equipment
  • Water Resources Management Act which provides for a comprehensive water resources management to address the national water crisis, and for other purposes
  • Water Resources Authority of the Philippines (WRAP) Act of 1998;
  • An Act Providing for the Rehabilitation and Improvement of all irrigation facilities throughout the country, amending for the purpose RA 6978, entitled, “An Act to Promote rural development by providing for an accelerated program within a ten-year period for the construction of irrigation projects” (HB 01095);
  • Resolution Directing the committee on ecology to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the ecological soundness of building and using incinerators as tool for solid waste management (HB 00087);
  • An Act that Seeks to Provide for three small farmers’ representative in the NIA Board (HB 00113)
  • Water Regulatory Commission Act which aims to establish a single agency for the rational and effective economic regulation of all piped-water supply and sewerage systems
  • Amendment to PD 198 (Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973) that seeks to increase LWUA capitalization from P2.5 billion to P10 billion, the foreign borrowing limit from $500 million to $2 billion, and the domestic borrowing limit from P1 billion to P4 billion;
  • Water Pollution Control Act which seeks to control the discharge of pollutants into all waterways and prescribing penalties to certain acts declared unlawful
  • Flood Control Act which provides for a flood control mechanism, will mitigate flooding to tolerable levels in Metro Manila and major river basins with the additional construction/installation of flood control facilities such as dikes, river walls, levees, cut-off channels, diversion floodways and revetments and installation of pumping stations, dredging and related works in all flood prone areas that need protection as determined under the national land use plan
  • Legislate an act creating a National Commission on Flood Control and Drainage Research and Development
  • Environmental code
  • Forestry Code
  • Oil Spill Prevention Act
  • Non-conventional Energy Bill
  • Institutionalization of Biosafety Rules
  • Ratification of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
  • Institutionalize an intellectual property rights (IPR) protection system for plant and animal materials including processes developed through local research and development
Towards Institutionalizing Good/Responsible Governance
  • Reengineering the bureaucracy – covers reforms of effective governance w/c includes institutionalizing a professional and dynamic bureaucracy
  • Early Retirement Law
  • Extension of the Life of the Committee of Privatization
  • Amendments to the Local Government Code to provide for the reclassification of agricultural lands and Reallocation of internal revenue allotment
  • Amendments to RA 6975 (PNP Law) and RA Consolidation and Reform of the Penal System 8551 (PNP Reform Act); (v)
  • Procurement Reform Bill to speed up the implementation of programs and projects, and forestall corruption through transparent
  • Complete the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program
  • Amend the Charter of the Office of the Ombudsman to streamline procedures and facilitate speedy resolution of complaints as well as to allow the services of private prosecutors

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