Chapter 2: Action Agenda

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:  

Integration. 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. 

Operationalization. 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.  



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 social structures.  

Given these, managing the transition to SD call for interventions in the following areas:

  1. integrating SD in governance;
  2. providing enabling economic policies;
  3. investing in human development;
  4. mapping out a legislative agenda; and
  5. 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.



The action agenda at the level of ecosystems consists of strategic and catalytic interventions covering the following ecosystems and critical resources:

  1. forest/upland ecosystems
  2. coastal and marine ecosystems
  3. urban ecosystems
  4. freshwater ecosystems
  5. lowland/agricultural ecosystems
  6. minerals and mines
  7. biodiversity


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