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PHL trailing in Sustainable Development Goals

The country is on track to meet only one Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), based on latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In a forum of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) and the Aboitiz Group of Companies, PSA Chief Statistical Specialist Bernadette B. Balamban said the country was on track to meet Goal 14 on Life Below Water.

Based on the 247 indicators that the country is monitoring locally, this goal only has one indicator. However, the country is also on track to attain another indicator under Goal 17 on Partnerships, but this is not enough to make the country on track to meet the entire SDG 17.

“Many of the indicators that we have—based on the data we received in April— many of them are regressing, many of them we really need to accelerate our efforts. We are only on track for Goal 14 but we are only using one indicator for that, so it will be difficult to really say that we will be able to achieve our goals for Life Under Water,” Balamban said in a panel discussion.

“I think it will be very challenging to really say which goals [we can meet] but it will depend on how our government will guide us so that we will be back on track and be able to surpass the effects of the pandemic. Hopefully, in our next reporting, next year, things will be better,” she added.

In order to track the country’s SDG progress, the PSA used the Current Status Index to determine how much progress has been made by the Philippines since 2000 when the country first signed the Millennium Declaration.

Balamban said the index measures the country’s progress at the goal level and that it required two data points since 2000 and the 2030 numerical target.

The index is represented by a bar with the length indicating the progress of the country since 2000. If the bar reaches or crosses the 2022 mark in the bar, the country has made the expected progress on the goal.

Based on the results of the estimation, only Goal 14 had a score of 10 out of 10, while SDG 17 had a score of 8.3 on account of the progress of being on track to meeting just one out of 13 indicators under the goal. Data needed to monitor Goal 17 was also insufficient.

The worst performance of the country was in SDG 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, where the country has been regressing in meeting the indicators with an index score of minus 10. Data availability for the indicators under this goal is lacking.

In terms of the goals with the worst performance but with complete data, SDG 13 on Climate Action was cited. The country scored minus 4.6 in the index, indicating the country was regressing in this goal.

Most AsPac countries, including PHL, trailing in SDGs

The country was making slow progress in SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth; SDG 1 on eradicating poverty; SDG 3 on good health and well-being; and SDG 4 on quality education.

“For the 17 goals, we only have goals 14 and 17 which surpassed the 2022 line,” Balamban said in a presentation. “For the rest of the goals, we are still not reaching the expected target for 2022.”

SDGs and inequalities

In his video message, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said no one country in the region is on track to attain the SDGs.

This was based on a recent SDG monitoring report released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap). Asia Pacific countries were not on track to achieve the SDGs in eight years which, Gonzalez said, “is almost tomorrow.”

“If we continue at the current pace of progress, the region will only achieve the SDGs in 2065. In addition we have to add to these complexities the impact of the pandemic, the climate emergency, and of course the food, energy, and finance crisis generated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said based on another UN report on the impact of the triple crisis of food, energy, and finance has affected a total of 1.7 billion people living in 107 countries globally. These people have experienced at least one of the three crises that are among the biggest problems in the world today.

He stressed that meeting the SDGs must focus on addressing inequalities from the social, environment, and economic points of view.

“Attaining the SDGs cannot afford a business as usual approach. So we need to collectively act with urgency and greater ambition. We know that the ongoing challenges are exceeding the response capacity of any single player. So this is the time of coalition, alliances,” Gonzalez said.

Among the social inequalities, Gonzalez said, is education inequality which has already been shared by the government through its estimates on learning losses caused by the pandemic.

Gonzalez said 25 million children were forced to take remote classes for almost two years while 80 percent of children were unable to access online learning.

In terms of the environment, he noted the climate inequality. The Philippines remains one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate-induced hazards.

This, the UNRC said, became evident when 1.7 million homes were damaged after Typhoon Odette.

The typhoons worsened the regions’ status, given that they already had high levels of stunting; and a third of the households could not afford food that met their nutritional needs prior to the calamity.

Gonzalez also noted the economic inequality. The collective wealth of the richest 50 Filipinos grew 30 percent during the pandemic in 2021. The richest family’s wealth clocked in at $16.6 million.

In contrast, Gonzalez said, the average income of Filipinos only reached P370,000 per year and there were around 20 million poor Filipinos based on the latest data from the PSA.

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