DFA, UN mark UN Day citing gains of multilateral action
25 November 2022
UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez commits to carry out the UN Development System Reform towards a reinvigorated UN System in the country
Manila, 24 November 2022--The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) organized today a United Nations (UN) Day event that was participated in by the UN Country Team and members of the diplomatic community.
The message of UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez (as prepared) follows:
In most cases, United Nations Day offers opportunities for a stocktaking perspective of achievements of the Organization as well as of its work with Member States.
On this occasion, however, I would like to focus on my hopes for the future as inspired by what I have seen of the immediate past that, in my view, will determine the work of the UN Country Team in the country.
The year 2022 marked an important political transition for the Philippines including the inauguration of a new national leadership.
In just a few months thereafter, a number of significant developments have shown us that trust in multilateral cooperation is strong in the Philippines and in fact has been reinforced, despite the complex global challenges that have affected Filipinos.
The first observation that comes to mind, and this has been supported by the recent COP27, is this government’s decision to place climate change at the top of its development agenda, including the need for developed countries to support those most affected by climate change -those who have contributed the least to the current climate emergency-.
Speaking to the 77th UN General Assembly last September, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stressed that climate change is the greatest threat affecting our nations and peoples and that there is no other problem so global in nature that it requires a united effort, one led by the United Nations.
At COP-27, the Philippines was a strong advocate for a mechanism to address the impact of climate change on vulnerable countries, and indeed we have seen the creation of a ‘loss and damage’ facility. Now, it is crucial for the UN Country Team to pool its knowledge and capacities to support the Philippines in modeling a strong business case to get access to such critical resources. Climate resilience will certainly be one of the expanded UN areas of support to the Government for the coming years.
My second observation relates to the political will that this Government mustered to reopen face-to-face classes. According to a recent Social Weather Survey (SWS), around 94 per cent of Filipinos were satisfied with the process of school reopening. This national sentiment sets the bases for a very much needed recovery investment in the education system.
In this context, he Department of Education has just started implementing the RAPID framework for learning recovery, promoted by the UN. Some regions have already conducted rapid literacy assessments, more non-teaching staff are being recruited to ease the burden of administrative work on teachers, and dedicated sessions are being conducted to focus on children’s reading and comprehension.
The UN Country Team is proud of the outstanding cooperation with the Department of Education in the preparations for the historic Transforming Education Summit, for which Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte served as national convenor.
As we said, Education is more than what we see in a classroom: it is a society in action, crafting sustainable futures. The UN Country Team will be supporting the Philippines in the implementation of the five recommendations conveyed by the Government in its Statement to the Transforming Education Summit.
My third observation is the priority given by this Government to rebuilding food security and agricultural recovery. Food security is already at the heart of the UN’s current Cooperation Framework with the Philippines. In partnership with the UN, the Government has made strategic commitments in various food and nutrition platforms, namely, Nutrition for Growth, the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting, the recent Food Security Summit, the Scaling Up Nutrition alliance and established non-financial and financial commitments related to Nutrition for Growth worth USD 411 million to transform food systems and to address malnutrition in all its forms.
Lessons learned from a completed UN joint programme on shock-responsive social protection systems are being applied towards responding to food and energy price increases over the medium and long-term.
My fourth observation is the priority given by this Government to peace and its commitment to an inclusive peace forged through extensive multi-stakeholder engagement, or “multilateralism at home”.
An all-inclusive approach to peace was clearly reflected in the constitution of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) bringing together all key factions from the Moro Islamic Liberation and Moro National Liberation Fronts for the first time, together with higher representation from women, civil society and other sectoral groups.
The UN Country Team is proud of being part of such historic peacebuilding investment in BARMM and will continue supporting sustained peace dividends by strengthening governance, fostering social cohesion, improving community security, providing economic security for ex-combatants, enhancing gender equality and expanding equitable access to livelihood and basic services. The recent release of 1.000 self-constructed houses in Marawi is another demonstration of multilateralism in action where central and regional government, the UN Country Team and the international community join efforts for durable solutions.
Finally, I would like to refer to Philippines’ commitment to human rights. As you know, I met with the President in June, shortly before his inauguration where the President reinforced the importance of ensuring a high level of accountability in terms of human rights. Since then, important milestones have been achieved in the implementation of the UN Joint Programme on Human Rights, which is now emerging as a very promising global practice.
As he stressed in his speech at the UN General Assembly, “the Philippines’ United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights is an example of a constructive approach that puts our people, not our politics, at the center of this work.”
The recent Universal Period Review held on the 14th of November in Geneva represents a fundamental landmark in the convergence of a wide range of stakeholders -the Government of the Philippines, member states, civil society and the UN – to jointly engage, in a constructive manner, in a common human rights agenda. Voices from member states during the UPR session have been encouraging, and we congratulate the government for its most recent decisions towards an enhanced judiciary system. The UN Country Team will continue working hand-in hand with the government, the Commission on Human Rights and civil society to ensure further investments to leave no one behind.
But beyond these broad areas of work, I would also like to emphasize the ongoing policy support of the UN Country Team in those strategic areas that are defining the 2030 journey. Our teams are fully engaged with a wide range of State institutions in developing population-related policies, in the field of migration, forced displacement, gender equality, sexual reproductive health, universal health care, social protection systems as well as in the definition of the Future of Work, decent and green jobs policies, digital technology-inclusion and the overall post-COVID19 recovery. This strategic policy work will certainly be enhanced within the framework of the UN reform and reflected in the new cooperation framework.
At the General Assembly, the President said, “As host to 17 UN agencies, program and funds, the Philippines strongly supports reforms to ensure that the UN Development System delivers as one through its UN Country Team.” I strongly believe that the UN reform will enrich and amplify our value proposition in the country, particularly in a moment where jointness, alliances and coalitions are becoming an imperative.
In this sense, let me also express my gratitude to His Excellency Secretary Manalo and his team for championing the reform of the UN Development System while he was Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN and now is opening new venues of collaboration and consultations with a reinvigorated UN Country Team.
The UN Country Team is committed to carry out to its completion the UN Development System Reform towards a reinvigorated UN System in the country in the service of Filipinos. [Ends]