Philippine civil societies urge government to address root causes of poverty

More than 100 Philippine civil society organizations including the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) and the Civil Society Counterpart Council for Sustainable Development (CSCCSD) have called on the government to address the root causes of poverty in the country.

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) crafted by the government will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after its 2015 deadline.

“Even with 14 years of the MDGs and continuous economic growth, the poverty incidence remains practically unchanged.  This shows that the SDGs cannot be just more of the same”, said Sixto Macasaet, Executive Director of CODE-NGO.

In a recent conference, SD2015 Philippines has acknowledged the gains contained in the proposed SDGs in recognizing some of the issues and causes of poverty and underdevelopment.

However, the group has expressed concern with the inadequacy of the proposed goals and indicators to comprehensively and decisively address the underlying core issues essential for ending the struggle against poverty and in transforming societies through sustainable development.

They emphasized that as the government works with the other UN member-states in finalizing these new development goals in the coming one-year period for negotiations, it should always be guided by the 15 Sustainable Development (SD) Principles of Unity, which were agreed upon by civil society and the government in the Enhanced Philippine Agenda 21.

These SD principles are encapsulated in the development aspirations of achieving social justice and human rights, sustainability and inclusion.

The group also cited the need to ensure that climate justice is promoted and that developed countries and industries responsible for climate change causing carbon emissions give reparations to the affected countries for the damages caused by natural disasters such as Typhoon Ondoy and Yolanda.

SD 2015 Philippines also stressed that economic growth must be promoted only in the context of holistic development, and it should not sacrifice or negatively impact any other aspect of full human, social, and environmental development.

They further called on the government to define a meaningfully inclusive and participatory process in the national and international agenda setting processes for the new global development goals and asked that the government open up its decision-making processes and help ensure that this new global development agenda will truly address the needs of the people.

“It cannot be just the Philippine government and other governments deciding on the SDGs”, explained Faith Ramirez, coordinator of CSCCSD, “they must also involve the citizens and CSOs, and those CSOs should prepare for genuine participation. The SDGs are too important to be decided upon by just a few politicians and bureaucrats.”

The draft SDGs currently contain 17 goals to be attained by 2030 and more than 140 associated targets, meant to create an integrated agenda based on the three pillars of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental goals sustainability.

CODE-NGO and CSCCSD organized SD 2015 Philippines as part of an international engagement program run by Stakeholder Forum and CIVICUS, in collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), to help stakeholders to input to the Post 2015 process and help build a more sustainable future.