THE United Nations (UN) representative in the Philippines said the government needs to prepare its budget in a manner that would help it better achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“Improving the integration of climate and environmental sustainability into national planning processes and private sector business models is an imperative,” UN Resident Coordinator for the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said at a briefing on Wednesday.
The UN recommends use of the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF), which uses tools such as budget tagging to ensure that programs and projects are aligned with the SDGs.
The Philippines is currently building its own INFF.
“The concept of INFF is operational in 86 countries, including the Philippines. It aims at unlocking a wide range of resources for financing that can accelerate the achievement of SDGs and linking together policies for planning, budget and financing,” Mr. Gonzalez said.
There is a funding gap of around $3.7 trillion annually to support projects designed to meet the SDGs by 2030.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Joseph J. Capuno said that the Philippines should have a functioning financing framework on or before 2030.
“The urgency for such a framework is underscored in the PDP (Philippine Development Plan). At their core, the SDGs and PDPs are bound by shared ambitions. Most if not all PDP chapters cohere with the SDGs,” he said.
“(The framework) should be anchored on the PDP. I see this project as a way of catalyzing support to the PDP,” Mr. Gonzalez added.
Australian Embassy Secretary for Development Georgina Harley-Cavanough said that government budgets are at the core of sustainable development.
“It’s a tool that mirrors government priorities and is instrumental to ensure accountability,” she added.
Lisa Kurbiel, head of the Joint SDG Fund, said that the framework must be institutionalized.
“It will need to be monitored and reviewed and adjusted to realities. These will include forging new partnerships and allies. Government counterparts, private sector, and civil society are allies in this battle,” she added.
The framework calls for budget tagging, a process for identifying, measuring, and monitoring allocations for various government programs aligned with SDG goals.
Council for the Welfare of Children Executive Director Angelo M. Tapales said: “When local government units craft their investment plans, they’d have projects for children, but because of the lack of funds, some of these projects are not implemented.”
“If local government units implement this framework… children will be ensured of programs, activities and projects aligned to SDG goals as these would be budgeted for,” he added.
“Eventually we hope to have a system to ensure effective allocation of public and private resources for SDG investments and increase the ownership of each stakeholder towards our collective agenda,” he added.
Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department Deputy Secretary-General Romulo Emmanuel Miral, Jr. said that the budget tagging exercise should be implemented at the start of the planning stages of the budget.
“The more logical thing would be to look at the goals and targets and what would be the programs to help obtain the targets,” he added.
Ms. Harley-Cavanough said the government may need to look at its existing systems and processes, such as information management, that need to be revised to adhere to the framework.
“Processes will have to be changed and we’ll have to look whether the processes in place are sufficient. The government will have to look into how these existing mechanisms can be used (or) changed. Not one project will serve just one SDG, it cuts across several. We are also working on formulating the budget convergence guidelines in line with SDG implementation,” Officer-in-Charge Director Reverie Pure G. Sapaen of NEDA’s Governance staff added.
“In government, we recognize the critical role of the private sector in expanding financing of SDGs. We are also mapping private sector initiatives across the country. We have a map of projects they have been implementing as well as the SDGs they are working on and the regions they are focused on,” Ms. Sapaen added.
Ms. Harley-Cavanough said this will also create greater oversight from civil society and the private sector.
“That gives an opportunity for others to play their part in implementing SDGs,” she added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson