The action agenda of the Philippine Agenda 21 elaborates the mix
of strategies that integrate the SD parameters in the country’s overall development strategy.
In formulating the action agenda, PA 21 was guided by the following key concepts:
Sustainable development in the Philippines permeate the rhetoric of many
development players providing considerable scope for integration. In this context, PA 21 does not
duplicate existing and on-going initiatives related to sustainable development; rather, it builds on
these efforts. A critical part of the PA 21 process involved a scanning of the various initiatives that
have enriched and sought to operationalize sustainable development. At the same time, it seeks to
develop an emerging and growing identity that is distinct from these initiatives, an identity that will
bridge PA 21 as an interstice towards sustainable development as the overarching framework. In the
process of its formulation, therefore, an attempt was made to synergize and contextualize the diversity
of existing initiatives.
It effectively is an accumulation of conceptual and
operational breakthroughs generated by the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development, Social
Reform Agenda , and the Human and Ecological Security, among others. Sustainable development is also a
product of the process itself, of engaging various stakeholders and simultaneously working in global,
national and local arenas.
Integration is always a context-bound activity.
Points of integration vary across different periods. As each program is operationalized, areas of
integration may need to be identified, validated and enriched. Moreover, even if the points of
integration are not as comprehensive as desired, the framework provides the mechanism for addressing
overlaps and inconsistencies.
Multistakeholdership and consensus-building.
The PA 21 will be a document owned by various stakeholders in government
and civil society. Hence, the action agenda brings out the important roles of major groups and other
stakeholders in the sustainable development process.
PA 21 must be identified with doing. This implies concrete policy statements
as well as appropriate implementation strategies on the critical issues that will affect sustainable
development in the Philippines in the next thirty years, including financing and localization mechanisms.
To facilitate operationalization, action measures are categorized into short-term (1996-1998), medium-term
(1998-2005) and long-term (2005-2025).
The journey towards sustainable development involves
both a transition and a paradigm shift. The Operational Framework for the Philippine Agenda 21, therefore,
adopts a two-pronged strategy in defining and mapping out the action agenda:
- creating the enabling conditions which would assist various stakeholders
to integrate sustainable development in their decision-making processes; and
- directing efforts at conserving, managing, protecting and rehabilitating
ecosystems through an approach that harmonizes economic, ecological and social goals.
This strategy is based on the premise that while
strategic policy and paradigm shifts are needed to operationalize sustainable development, the critical
state of the country’s various ecosystems--upland/forest, coastal and marine, freshwater, urban and
agricultural/lowland--demands and deserves urgent attention. On the other hand, ecosystem-based actions
cannot be sustained without an enabling environment. Creation of an enabling environment is also
an important requisite to building the capacity of all stakeholders in making decisions in favor of
sustainable development. As these changes cannot be achieved overnight, an important dimension of the
action agenda is, therefore, the identification of courses of action that will help stakeholders manage
the transition towards sustainable development.
MANAGING THE TRANSITION:
CREATING THE ENABLING CONDITIONS FOR SD
The operational framework for sustainable development
anchors on the integration of sustainable development in the decision-making structures and processes
within the society. What are these structures and processes?
In the realm of the economy, the main decision
structure is the market system through its pricing mechanisms. Moreover, economic decisions are also
guided by the rules and policies established by government. Hence, the government’s policy, regulatory,
legal and institutional framework are also the relevant structures and processes to contend with. In
the realm of polity, government decision-making is manifested in the development planning, policy
formulation and implementation process which is carried out through the government machinery for
development administration and various institutions for governance. In the realm of culture, societal
decisions are reflective of public attitudes, value systems, education and information and prevailing
Given these, managing the transition to SD call for
interventions in the following areas:
- integrating SD in governance;
- providing enabling economic policies;
- investing in human development;
- mapping out a legislative agenda; and
- addressing critical and strategic concerns including population management,
human health, food security, human settlements and land use.
These interventions define the Philippine Agenda 21’s
agenda across ecosystems.
ACTION AGENDA PER ECOSYSTEM
The action agenda at the level of ecosystems consists of strategic and
catalytic interventions covering the following ecosystems and critical resources:
- forest/upland ecosystems
coastal and marine ecosystems
minerals and mines