Speaking at the recent International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Singapore, Philippine Foreign Trade ASEAN Leader and Department of Trade and Industry’s Commercial Counsellor for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Glenn Peñaranda emphasized the critical role both government and private sector play in achieving sustainable development. Peñaranda spoke at the summit on behalf of the Philippine National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
“The strengths and synergies of stakeholders will help in the formulation of better plans and programs that champion sustainable practices. We are committed in working with the private sector and civil society towards achieving green and sustainable development goals,” said Peñaranda.
The Philippines is one of the forerunners of sustainable development in Asia and has been considered one of the pioneers in the Asia-Pacific region in establishing a multi-stakeholder body, with the creation of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) in 1992 which is currently chaired by the NEDA Director-General. It promotes development by policy integration, establishing indicators and standards in monitoring contributions of government institutions and businesses and continuing education and raising awareness for current and future generations.
The PSCD led the creation in 1997 of the Philippine Agenda 21 (PA21), the nation’s blueprint for sustainable development. This was complemented by the business sector with the Business Agenda 21 which provides the broad vision and implementing strategies and parameters for sustainable development. In 2012, the Philippines renewed its political commitment by participating in the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.
Over the years, the Philippine government has established an enabling environment that facilitates implementation of activities and business processes by the enactment of laws translated into key programs and activities of government and the private sector. Policies are on protected areas for biodiversity, wildlife, clean air and water, renewable energy, fisheries, among others. Furthermore, an Environmental Compliance Certificate was made a requisite document for a project evaluation.
The government also launched the Philippine Environment Partnership Program which seeks to encourage and support establishments to adopt self-regulation for improved environmental performance. Government provides the regulatory assistance and other incentives to enable businesses achieve pollution prevention and cleaner production processes.
According to Peñaranda, “Collaborations should go beyond the aid agenda and serve as venue for knowledge, capacities and technologies exchange. Partnerships foster sharing of policy successes and best practices.”
Several multinationals and brands have a long legacy in the Philippines and deep-rooted connections compelling them to partner with the government and go beyond humanitarian relief. One example is the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program of Coca-Cola Philippines and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). It is designed for women micro-entrepreneurs who own and manage sari-sari or community stores
and help them achieve business success. The women are given access to training, resources and peer mentoring in the TESDA Women’s Center. The STAR Program is being implemented in over 47 locations nationwide and has reached more than 52,000 women.
Another is Text2Teach by Microsoft Philippines, Globe Telecom and the Philippine Department of Education with the local governments. Text2Teach is a learning package that uses mobile technology to download education videos for Grades 5 and 6 students in remote, hard-to-reach areas. To date, Text2Teach has served over 300,000 students from 1,103 schools, covering 78 cities and municipalities.
“In order to achieve the sustainable development goals, we at the government need to adopt innovative approaches in public service delivery and strengthen the capacities of the communities and stakeholders including local government officials,” added Peñaranda.
Last year, the country adopted the SDGs or officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is an intergovernmental set of aspiration goals with 169 targets.