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Regional councils and sustainable development

Ike Señeres

AS we enter the second semester of 2015, it is already a foregone conclusion that the Philippines has failed to meet most of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since it is already moot and academic that we have no more time to catch up with the deadline of these goals, we should just aim instead to meet most if not all of the newly defined seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a founding member of the United Nations (UN), we had a moral duty to lead the world in meeting the MDGs, but instead of crying over spilled milk, let us just make a firm resolve as one nation to make good on our second chance to meet the second set of goals.

It is hard to say where that firm resolve will come from, but it is very clear that such a resolve did not come to play in the first round of global development goals. It is really a big question now where that firm resolve will come from, but as political behavior is supposed to come into play, the only starting point is the emergence of political will and nowhere else. As it usually happens, political will could emerge once a strong leader comes forward to lend a face to it, or it could happen the other way around; political will could emerge as a political party or political movement is formed to lead it, and thereafter, it will choose a leader to lend a face to it. As it is now however, neither a strong leader nor a political party is coming forward.

That is not really a big surprise for me, because as far as I know, no strong leader or political party could be identified as the face behind the national goal of meeting the eight MGDs. That could actually be a blessing in disguise for either of them, because had someone come forward to become the public face, then we would have known who to blame for our country not meeting the said goals. As we look forward to meeting the seventeen SDGs however, we should hope and pray that a political party will come forward to embrace this new set of global development goals, and thereafter, to make it their priority agenda if and when they win the elections. I say that they should embrace it and not just adopt it, because they need to accept it with their hearts and minds.

It would be reasonable to say that national elections would call for local issues, and global issues such as the SDGs would not be relevant to the local setting. That is not really the case however, because if anyone would take a look at all the seventeen SDGs, it is replete with local goals such as justice, education, wellness, employment, livelihood and safety. That is not really surprising, because is actually a measure of how UN member countries are able to address certain development goals in their own jurisdictions. Although it is not really a contest among the countries, the UN has a scoring system that would rank the performance of countries in relation to each other, in terms of their capabilities to meet each and every goal. Never mind the details, but the Philippines did not get good grades in the score card.

No one seems to have noticed it, but the past eight MGDs should have been in the default agenda items of the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). Again, instead of crying over spilled milk because of that failure, we should now make sure that the future seventeen SDGs will be in the default agenda items of all the RDCs nationwide. Just to remind everyone, the RDCs are the topmost regional councils of a complete system of local development councils that includes the Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), Municipal Development Councils (MDCs) and the Provincial Development Councils (PDCs). In theory, it is supposed to be the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that should be the topmost national coordinator of all the RDCs, but it is not very clear how that is supposed to work.

As I see it, regional development should be 100% interchangeable with sustainable development, and vice versa. If you accept that reasoning, the interchangeable approach should apply not only in the level of the RDCs, but also in all the levels, namely the PDCs, the MDCs

 

 

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