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PH makes strides on SDG goals feat

May 20, 2019

The Philippines has made significant progress in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, an expert from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said.

Speaking at a policy dialog coorganized by PIDS and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) last week, PIDS senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert said in terms of SDG on quality education, the country “has seen marked improvements”, with basic education performance indicators, such as completion and cohort survival rates, having significantly improved.

However, Albert said there are gaps in the secondary education, especially in terms of absorptive capacity.

“The teacher-student ratio at the primary level is 1:32 and 1:27 at the secondary level. Four out of 5 schools have computers, but only 1 out of 4 schools have access to Internet, as of 2016,” said Albert.

In terms of SDG on decent work and economic growth, Albert said the country is seeing a positive trend for the past seven years.

“However, while labor indicators show positive growth, disparities can still be seen in terms of gender and region. The quality of jobs needs to be improved to help address the 16.1-percent underemployment rate in the country,” said Albert.

For SDG on reducing inequality, Albert said while there are improvements in the country’s economic growth, these improvements “vary drastically across regions”.

“Regional income disparities are stark, with the National Capital Region’s average per capita income thrice that of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s,” he said.

The Philippines is one of the 193 UN-member states committed to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030.

Unescap in its “Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019” said the Asia-Pacific region needs an annual investment of about $1.5 trillion (equivalent to P78.9 trillion).

“This is on top of what [the region] is already spending [for SDGs],” said Vatcharin Sirimaneetham, Unescap’s economic affairs officer.

Sirimaneetham said economies in the region need to have a “shift in mindset” by prioritizing the “well-being of the people and the planet first”.

Based on the survey 2019, the region should annually invest an additional $669 billion (or P35.2 trillion) on people to ensure the implementation of targeted cash transfers, efficient social protection services, nutrition-specific interventions, universal access to quality education and health coverage, as well as to promote agricultural productivity.

Another $196 billion (or P10.3 trillion) should also be invested for the improvement of the region’s infrastructure and to ensure access to water and sanitation, information and communications technology, and transportation.

Sirimaneetham said $590 billion (or P31 trillion) should be spent on the protection of environment to ensure access to clean energy, among others. When combined, the three estimated costs would total to about $1.5 trillion (or P78.9 trillion) per year.

“They [Asian countries] will not be able to finance these SDGs by themselves; it is possible only with strong development partnership,” Sirimaneetham said, noting that governments in the Asia-Pacific region need to tap the private sector to afford these investments.

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