Philippine NGOs laud draft UN Cooperation Framework, seek sustained engagement with UN
16 May 2023
UN Philippines marks high point in consultations with stakeholders on the Cooperation Framework
MANILA, 16 May 2023--Over 50 representatives of non-government organizations (NGOs) participated in a dialogue and consultation workshop organized by the United Nations (UN) Philippines to get NGOs' feedback on the draft UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2024-2028 (UNSDCF).
This is the third such consultation organized by the UN. The first one was conducted with Government partners and with BARMM ministries in March this year.
On behalf of the UN Philippines, a summary of the comments and recommendations reported by the NGOs on the UNSDCF was provided by Maria Ermina Valdeavilla- Gallardo, Head of National Office of UNHCR in the Philippines.
Her summary, as prepared, follows:
Distinguished participants, colleagues, partners and friends... good afternoon. On behalf of the UN Country Team, I thank you most sincerely for your active participation in today’s consultation on the UNSDCF 2024-2028. Specifically, we are grateful for your time, your very insightful ideas, and your interest to support the attainment of the envisioned results of Cooperation Framework in the Philippines, which is to further improve the lives of the Filipinos, without leaving anyone behind.
It is worth noting that the Framework is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It was developed with UN agencies acting as one in accordance with UN reform. Together with the government, we agreed on key priority areas in the context of the UN Development System Reform. We have learned a lot in the implementation of the Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development (PFSD) and the Socio-economic Peace Building Framework, developed for 2019 to 2023, and we recognize that no strategy is complete without the strong ang competent partners that we have in the non-governmental sector. Thus, we are grateful for your sharing to your valuable time, your very insightful ideas, and your interest to support the attainment of the envisioned results of Cooperation Framework in the Philippines, which is to further improve the lives of the people in the Philippines, without leaving anyone behind.
I have keenly observed the discussions and listened with great interest on the thoughts and recommendations of each group. We are very lucky to have been favoured by the participation of stakeholder representatives who have immense understanding of the fast-evolving realities confronted by the most marginalized and vulnerable population groups, whose interests and concerns you competently raised in the group discussions.
Your participation in today’s event is a prime example of what is possible – of what we are capable of achieving – if we work together. For this, I thank each and every one of you and at the same time urge you all to continue to collaborate with us beyond this dialogue and workshop.
On the reflections ...
▪ First, we are happy to note that the Strategic Priorities and Outcome Areas of the Cooperation Framework are generally in harmony with your aspirations. This is reflective of our shared understanding of the challenges and the most effective ways on how to confront them. Be as it may, we recognize that you have also some priorities that the Cooperation Framework would need to consider, such as reformulating certain parts of the Cooperation Framework for inclusivity not only for purposes of leaving no one behind but addressing the “missing middle.” We also heard that representation of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations and the very people that concerns the Cooperation Framework should be at the centre of the discussions and the decisions, providing clearer articulation on the vulnerable sectors that we serve, the importance of strengthening of data collection, including in climate action, balancing budget allocation for priorities that are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of capacity development and provision of viable technologies for local governments, and the clear emphasis on the importance of financing. Along this line, the UN Country Team will endeavour to continue dialoguing among its member agencies and with all of you that are especially concerned with these priorities to ensure that they are duly incorporated into the Cooperation Framework, both in terms of the content and implementation.
▪ Second, you have brilliantly identified specific ways by which stakeholders could efficiently and effectively participate in the proposed Cooperation Framework platforms. You said bringing in CSOs and NGOs into a joint planning mechanism for the Cooperation Framework and regional and high-level discussions. You also mentioned having clear indicators for reviewing the Cooperation Framework, and better information dissemination, as well as inclusive and regular consultations with everyone, including the BARMM stakeholders. Your recommendations are not only very practical and doable; they are also potentially catalytic to the further strengthening of partnerships between and among the UN Country Team, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and of course, the people that are covered by this Cooperation Framework. The UN Country Team can be instrumental in ensuring that these discussions on the holistic approach of the Cooperation Framework continue and are consistent throughout its planning, annual review, and implementation. In our efforts, there is emphasis on sustaining our discussions and collaboration for the people that we serve.
▪ Third, you have recommended innovative approaches to optimize the engagement of stakeholders in achieving the Cooperation Framework strategic priorities and outcomes. Among the most innovative approaches you recommended include raising the business sector’s awareness of the SDGs and the Cooperation Framework, engaging the youth and the most vulnerable, and sustaining discussions and collaboration with non- governmental groups. What I like about it is the consistent reference to ensuring that these consultations would look at technology – digital platforms – making it easier for us to have a two-way conversation. I think that is very important.
▪ Fourth, like you, we believe that the groups of people who are hardest to reach and have least time, energy, and information must be supported so that their participation could be more meaningful, not only to us, but more importantly, to themselves. And we can work together on better identifying who these most vulnerable are, and who belong to the middle group – the missing middle – to ensure inclusivity in the Cooperation Framework. I was listening to this and somehow, it has become an inspiration to me to reach out to each and every one in the organizations here because as the
representative of the UNHCR, I was not able to hear about forcible displacement. I’ve heard about migration, but in the essence of inclusivity, it would also be good to look at some of the vulnerable populations that are affected by forcible displacement. Your recommendations are impressive because they promise to ensure that the voice of the marginalized and vulnerable groups in hard to reach areas is heard in various levels and because they are likely to make these groups visible and participants to the process of change that affect their lives and well-being.
In the course of our work, we have met and collaborated with many of you who have brought value and important inputs to our efforts. And today, we have taken note of all these best practices and approaches as well as your suggestions in reinforcing pillars addressing development goals in the SDG pillars of People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace, particularly in empowering the vulnerable, marginalized, and those at risk and providing them with a more supportive environment where they can not only survive, but thrive.
This is the brand of cooperation that we wish to promote and further improve upon under the UN’s Cooperation Framework. With this in mind, we hope that our discussions from today do not end here but is instead the first step towards a stronger and more fruitful partnership.
Blaise Pascal, who is a French Mathematician, said that we only consult the ear because the heart is wanting. We consult you mainly because our heart wants to hear what you want to say. There are still many things to discuss, especially the implementation details. And the UN Country Team assures you that our door of consultation will always and be fully open, be it on small or big things. There must never be a final word among partners. Ideas evolve, implementation contexts evolve, and the needs of the people we serve continuously evolve. So, this is only the beginning. We extend to you our invitation for continuing dialogue and consultation until such time that we realize the vision of the Cooperation Framework.
Indeed, the UN has remained strong throughout the years and thanks largely to its long tradition of collaborating with civil society and non-governmental organizations with whom it shares its advocacies.
And we are optimistic that with your feedback and recommendations today which we hope will continue on in the future, we can achieve much more and continue building on what we have started towards the implementation of the Cooperation Framework; one that encourages everyone to take part and leave no one behind. As a member of the UN Country Team, we invite all of you to embark on this journey with us and to continue working together as we strive to deliver much- needed solutions in the Philippines under the Cooperation Framework.
Again, maraming salamat po and may we all be guided in our noble mission to bringing improvements to the lives of the people in the Philippines and leave no one behind. Magandang araw.