MANILA, 1 October 2021—The Philippines and the United Nations (UN) signed on 19 September an agreement to adopt a new financing framework to keep the Philippines on track to maximize its demographic dividend and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while promoting economic recovery from COVID-19.
Reaching for the demographic dividend is a key strategy of the government under Chapter 13 of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). It involves maximizing the reduction in infant mortality rates and fertility rates and a growing working population through investments in human capital, especially in adolescents and young Filipinos, for them to reach their full potential.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) signed the programme document of the UN Joint Programme on Integrated National Financing Framework (JP INFF) at a virtual ceremony together with UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez and the country heads of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
“The JP INFF will support the Government in strengthening the enabling framework to transform the country’s financing landscape. This document is a very important tool to determine who is in the best position to support our needs, who can do it better and faster, and how we should target the support we give so that the people actually feel its impact,” Chua said.
Prior to the pandemic, progress had been made in poverty reduction, maternal and child health, access to electricity, and gender equality, but more can be done to achieve the SDGs by 2030. In other areas, such as reducing inequality, lowering carbon emissions and tackling hunger, progress had been reversed.
Investing in high-value interventions allows for multiple targets to be reached, across different sectors. Applying the principles of an INFF in the Philippine budgetary process - implementing reforms in how government plans and budgets for the SDGs, and how it executes and monitors priority programs - results in better integration of public investments in health, education and employment specifically targeting women and young people during this time when COVID-19 poses a major threat to reaping the country’s demographic dividend and achieving the SDGs.
“This joint programme comes at a critical time. Sustainable finance is essential not only for recovery from the pandemic, but also from the wide-ranging effects on the achievements of the SDGs,” Gonzalez said.
In particular, the JP INFF will improve planning, budgeting, execution and monitoring to ensure targeted resources for the SDGs and will expand alternative financing sources to fill the SDG financing gap by bringing public and private (including innovative financing mechanisms) together.
“Beyond this strategy document and this financing framework, it is really about execution. Under the government’s Development Budget Coordination Committee, we created a subcommittee on the SDGs. That is how we intend to prioritize, program properly, and even tag all the expenditures in the budget along each of the SDG indicators so that we know more accurately what the progress is, and to take decisive and quick action if there is some slowdown,” Chua said.
“If the world is to build back better and get back on a trajectory to achieve the SDGs, we need to get the right economic, social and environmental policies in place and mobilize the huge level of financing that will be required to bring those policies to scale,” Gonzalez added.
Selva Ramachandran, Resident Representative of UNDP—the lead implementing agency for this JP—reiterated the importance of the collaboration and noted that “INFF considers all types of finance—public, private domestic international—and helps identify and implement policies and reforms to better align towards the achievement of national sustainable development.”
“When we integrate and coordinate our financing and program, we are more effective and we can support governments better,” added Ndiamé Diop, World Bank (WB) Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.
Among the key supporters of the JP INFF are the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Commission on Population and Development, the WB, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), and private sector and civil society partners.