EDITORIAL — Getting back on track

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL � Getting back on track

Here’s a bit of positive news on progress in the country. Out of 167 countries and economies, the Philippines improved by six spots in achieving 17 sustainable development goals, according to a United Nations body. Out of the 17 SDGs covered in the 2024 Sustainable Development Report, the Philippines was deemed to be “moderately improving” in the attainment of eight targets.

These are in attaining zero poverty, zero hunger, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, life below water, life on land, partnerships for goals, and in the SDG covering industry, innovation and infrastructure. But the country still faces “significant challenges” in meeting targets on these eight SDGs, according to the report.

Prepared by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the report also deemed the country to have “stagnated” in the attainment of another eight SDGs and “decreased” in one. These are in achieving targets on good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and in achieving peace, justice and strong institutions.

In terms of climate action, Philippine efforts were seen to be “decreasing” in areas such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from imports as well as emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production.

“Major challenges” were noted by SDSN in the attainment of SDGs on good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, and sustainable cities and communities.

While the country saw its ranking improve, it still lagged behind ASEAN members Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The Philippines ranked ahead of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

In the first half of 2023, Philippine poverty incidence slid to 22.4 percent from 23.7 percent at the height of the COVID lockdowns in 2021. That’s still a lot of Filipinos living below the poverty line, with minimal improvement in poverty incidence in the past decade. Another major challenge is the poor quality of education. The next person to head the education department should intensify efforts to address this national crisis.

The COVID pandemic has been blamed for slowing down efforts to attain SDGs. But with the COVID restrictions lifted and even the school calendar returning to the pre-pandemic schedule, the country can now focus on getting back on track in the attainment of the SDG targets.

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