New generation of partnership between the Philippines and the United Nations

POINT OF VIEW - Gustavo Gonzalez - The Philippine Star

Today, 24 October, is United Nations Day: 78 years ago, the United Nations Charter entered into force, establishing the world organization that has ever since represented hope and humanity’s best joint efforts towards global unity and solidarity, through fostering peace, security and human rights, and pursuing sustainable and inclusive development for all.

This year’s commemoration comes at a critical moment: the halfway mark to the 2030 destination to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), when the world is grappling with a multitude of challenges – political instability, conflicts, poverty, inequalities, climate crisis and global health issues – with progress towards many global targets having stalled, or even backtracked. One fundamental lesson is emerging from this situation: collective action is needed more than ever.

Effective multilateral responses are required to prevent and resolve conflicts, manage economic uncertainty, rescue the SDGs and address global risks emerging from uncontrolled new technologies. And all these global challenges can only be solved through respect for international law, adherence to global commitments and the adoption of appropriate frameworks of multilateral governance. In these circumstances, the leading role of UN member-states in sustaining multilateralism is critical, as it has been demonstrated over decades by the Philippines – one of the 51 countries that founded the global organization, preserving a rich longstanding multilateral tradition.

Today, the strong partnership between the United Nations and the Philippines is elevated further as we sign, in the presence of His Excellency President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the “2024-2028 UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (CF).” This first-ever agreement in the context of the UN reform is the commitment by the United Nations to supporting and working closely with the Philippines in achieving its national development priorities, accelerating progress towards the SDGs and contributing to the country’s aspiration to reach the upper middle-income status in the coming years.

This comes on top of almost eight decades of successful cooperation, where the United Nations and its operational agencies, funds and programs having been a firm partner in pursuing Philippine national priorities and leadership ever since the organization’s establishment. We have supported the nation’s anti-poverty programs, leading to a decrease in the poverty incidence in some of the poorest regions. We have supported food and nutrition initiatives country-wide that led to improved food security. We have jointly worked with national institutions to advance inclusive and quality education for all, pushing for transformative learning and increased accessibility. We have supported strengthening of health systems at all levels and timely mobilized our crisis response systems, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. When needed, we provided urgent program support to address climate and man-made disasters, conflict and displacement, resulting in strengthened resilience of communities and individuals across the country.

The United Nations has also traditionally been a strong partner of the Philippines in the areas of peace-building and governance – where the country has witnessed impressive progress over the last decade. National leadership and unity have led to decisive conflict transformation efforts over the last decade in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), where we now need to make sure that peace dividends timely benefits all. The most recent UN Joint Program on Human Rights represents a tangible example of the “whole of partnership approach” brought by the UN reform in areas requiring high levels of expertise and sustained consensus building. We will continue to support the Government in making strides towards inclusive and gender-responsive sustainable development, with strategic assistance in the areas of human rights and accountability, strengthening institutions and social cohesion in BARMM and other parts of the country, addressing drivers of inequality and insecurity.

Our priorities in the renewed and further strengthened partnership with the Philippines are organized around three outcome areas, with concrete and tangible improvements for everyone in the Philippines by 2028: first, increased resilience to economic, climatic disasters and public health risks through quality social services, social protection and healthy habitats, accessible to all, including the most vulnerable; second, all people benefit from a more integrated, innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy that generates decent work and livelihood opportunities; and third, a just transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient development, sustainable management of the environment, natural resources, as well as to preserved and increased biodiversity.

Echoing Our Common Agenda, the vision of the United Nations Secretary-General’s for the future of global cooperation and the United Nations’ role, the CF is a new generation of cooperation instruments that represents a critical shift from traditional development assistance to transformative strategic partnerships for policy and capacity development, knowledge generation and the leveraging of financial resources.

Twenty-three United Nations entities in the Philippines, together with their support offices and global networks, have committed to work together, mobilizing their global knowledge, capacities and resources and put their convening and coalition-building role at the disposal of the Philippine society.

To make things happen, we will harness the potential of South-South and triangular cooperation, deepen ongoing alliances with multilateral development banks, engage with the business community and academe in the search for durable solutions to development challenges and continue partnering with the country’s vibrant civil society community to effectively localize the SDGs. We will work together with a revitalized commitment to making our vision of a better future for all – a future where no one is left behind – a reality, in line with the vision of the drafters – and founders – of the United Nations Charter.

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Gustavo González is the UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines.

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