Friday, August 13, 2010

CSOs, UN, Philippine Government meet to fast-track achievement of MDGs

Manila, Philippines, August 13, 2010–With almost a month left before the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Review +10 Summit in New York, civil society organizations (CSOs) led by the United Nations Civil Society Advisory Committee (UN-CSAC), Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) and Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) held a three-day consultation on August 2-4 with Philippine government officials, the UN and development partners to come up with strategies to fast-track the achievement of the MDGs.

Organized in partnership with the MDG Achievement Fund (MDG-F), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Millennium Campaign, the tri-sectoral conference aimed at providing an alternative roadmap for the country’s development through inputs to the Midterm Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP).

“With [President] Benigno Aquino’s mantle of leadership, the table is set and the doors have reopened for meaningful engagement of all sectors of society,” said Veronica Villavicencio, UN-CSAC member and Executive Director of the Peace and Equity Foundation, in her welcome remarks during the event. “We come together as interested parties and advocates in crafting the MTPDP 2011-2016 and collaborators to move financing for the MDGs in its final achievement stretch up to 2015.”
The CSO proposals were presented to the National Economic and Development Authority and other government agencies including the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Budget and Management; the UN Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock; representatives of the Australian Agency for International Development, European Union and various UN donor and partner agencies.
Among the key recommendations were the expansion of the Conditional Cash Transfer program for the poorest of the poor, which should be clearly linked to job and livelihood generation, as well as asset reform programs to ensure sustainability, and increased and automatic appropriations for education, health and mass housing.

The recommendations also incorporated elements of the CSO Charter for accelerating MDG achievement which was drafted during the Asia-Pacific CSO consultation held on 1-2 August in Jakarta, Indonesia. The CSO Charter served as input for the Special Ministerial Meeting for the MDGs Review in Asia and the Pacific which was held last August 3-4 in Jakarta, showing that the Philippines is facing the same issues being confronted by the Region.

The CSO Charter include core messages pushing for the accelerated achievement of the MDGs through an MDG Breakthrough Plan, the MDG’s focus on the vulnerable such women and their children, indigenous peoples, and the socially excluded, and the importance a citizen-led monitoring accountability process to address accountability and transparency issues in the government.

Government agencies were asked to respond to the assessment and recommendations of the civil society sector.
According to Florencio “Butch” Abad, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, “We want the budget to benefit the poor in a substantial way.” Secretary Abad further emphasized the Department’s commitment to transparency, echoing the Aquino administration’s flagship goals of good governance, accountability and transparency while urging more active citizen monitoring and participation in the planning and budgeting process.

The results of the tripartite consultation will be the basis of the Alternative Roadmap for MDG Progress, which will be launched on September 13, 2010. The document will be turned over to the President to contribute to the development of the new MTPDP.
“It must be noted that MDGs are inter-related goals that cannot be fully achieved separately,” said Jacqueline Badcock, UN Resident Coordinator. “We may have to cram fifteen years of development efforts into five years. Still, I am confident that with all of us working together, the MDGs can still happen in this country.”

The MDGs are eight specific, concrete and time-bound goals that 189 world leaders committed to achieving by 2015. These goals are: 1) end extreme poverty and hunger; 2) achieve universal primary education; 3) promote gender equality and empower women; 4) reduce child mortality; 5) improve maternal health; 6) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7) ensure environmental sustainability; and 8) develop a global partnership for development.

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