Senator Loren Legarda
Privilege Speech on the Sustainable Development Goals
30 September 2015 | Session Hall
We all dream of living in progressive, peaceful, safe and healthy communities. We all hope to be able to fulfill our needs and enjoy our basic rights. But we live in a world far from ideal. There is poverty around us; there is hunger, inequality, injustice, violence, natural hazards, environmental degradation, and climate change.
Nations sought to address these challenges through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted by 189 member-states of the United Nations in 2000.
In its 2014 report on the MDGs, the UN stated that extreme poverty has been reduced to half. Ninety percent of children in developing regions are attending primary school. There have been significant improvements in health care, particularly in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis. Child mortality has been cut in half. The political participation of women has continued to increase. The target of halving the proportion of people who lack access to improved sources of drinking water has also been achieved.
In some of the goals, substantial progress has been made, but greater effort is required to reach the targets particularly on ensuring environmental sustainability, eliminating hunger, improving child nutrition, reducing maternal mortality, and bringing down school dropout rates.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “the MDGs have made a profound difference in people’s lives. But more needs to be done to accelerate progress.”
On 27 September 2015, UN member-states adopted a new set of goals for the next 15 years. These goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aim to build on the gains of the MDGs, fill in the gaps, and address new challenges.
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
These are very impressive targets that, if we are able to achieve, would make our communities close to being ideal. But these goals require not only a lot of hard work but also collective action and acceptance of every leader and citizen to be part of change towards sustainable development.
The first challenge to us is to adopt these goals in the Philippine context. There should be a national framework on how the SDGs will be incorporated in our development agenda and should be translated to local plans.
Moreover, there is interrelation among the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the SDGs, and the expected ambitious and legally-binding climate change agreement in Paris this December.
In order for development to be sustainable, we must ensure that it is resilient to natural hazards and is geared towards mitigating climate change, because a single typhoon or earthquake can undo years of development if we do not prepare and reduce disaster risks.
The SDGs should therefore be an issue this coming elections because the next President and leaders of our nation should embrace these goals as part of their agenda in making our country a more ideal place—progressive, peaceful, safe and healthy—for present and future generations to live in.
Let us prove that our nation goes beyond lip service, that we remain steadfast in our commitment to building a more resilient and sustainable planet through effective policies and urgent action.
The path that we will take today will determine the fate of the next generations, starting with our very own children. Let us not fail them. We should not fail them.