Excellencies, distinguished delegates, good morning.
Foremost, the Philippines reiterates its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As we continue to fight this COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively affected our people’s health, the economy, the social fabric, and the environment, the Agenda 2030 is even more relevant
Our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) began when we negotiated with other member states on the outcome document “Transforming Our World.” Since then, we have mainstreamed the SDGs into the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, enabling us to sustain our actions for the SDGs. To create an enabling environment for sustainable development and align resource allocation with country priorities on the SDGs, we have established the subcommittee on the SDGs under our Development Budget Coordination Committee. Through this mechanism, we are also championing the whole-of-society approach as we engage with the legislative branch, private sector, academe, and civil society through the Stakeholders Chamber of the subcommittee.
We also remain committed to the SDGs’ monitoring and review process. The Philippines has presented its voluntary national reviews or VNRs in 2016 and 2019 and we look forward to the next reporting. The UN system has improved its members’ development outcome monitoring by providing these opportunities for self-assessment through the VNR process.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines’ poverty rate substantially declined between 2015 and 2018. The national poverty rate declined from 23.3 percent in 2015 to 16.6 percent in 2018. This is by far the largest decline in the poverty rate, where 6 million Filipinos were lifted from poverty in just three years. The Philippines was on track to halving poverty between 2015 and 2030. We experienced a fourteen-year low in the underemployment rate at 13 percent and an all-time low unemployment rate at 4.5 percent, both recorded in 2019. Having sustained average annual economic growth of 6.4 percent between 2010 and 2019, the Philippines was on track to becoming an upper-middle income country by the end of 2020, according to projections from the World Bank. Based on the SDG Index, our country was on track to meeting the targets for poverty reduction, responsible consumption and production, and climate action. However, this year, the COVID-19 global pandemic has pulled the brakes on these targets.
On top of the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the people, a necessary quarantine was imposed to buy time to improve our health systems and to save lives. This has dampened consumption and production, induced job losses and business closures, and disrupted face-to-face schooling.
In this global pandemic, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is even more important. As we emphasized in the 2030 Agenda and the Philippines’ VNR, international cooperation and multilateralism are crucial in our efforts to “leave no one behind and reach the furthest behind first,” and in addition, to leave no country behind. In light of the strengthened multilateralism within the UN, we recommend the following initiatives:
- The UN needs to ensure that health goods, such as COVID-19 vaccine, remains a public good. We strongly support equitable access to the vaccine once available. Concerns on intellectual property and patent for the vaccine have to give way to the need for affordability and accessibility. We need to forge partnerships and agreements to strengthen our collective negotiating power. In the interest of public health, we have to use the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights as a framework to ensure that the vaccine will not just be available, but also accessible, acceptable, and affordable.
- The UN needs to significantly enhance public service delivery within countries by facilitating technology transfer and narrowing the digital divide. The UN can help drive technological advancements and facilitate technology transfers to middle-income and low-income economies by encouraging states to work together. South-South and Triangular Cooperation that will supplement traditional international cooperation modalities is needed to address technological gaps and help countries achieve their development objectives.
As we tackle this pandemic, we are again reminded of the universality of SDGs – specifically, we need the whole-of-society, the whole-of-government, multilateralism, and international cooperation to leave no one and no country behind.