The Global Goals for Sustainable Development - Social Good Summit Philippines 2015

Sep 26, 2015

More than 1500 people participated in the 2015 Social Good Summit Philippines organised by Rappler in partnership with UNDP. (Photo: Rappler)

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

by Mr. Ola Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

delivered during the 

Social Good Summit Philippines

26 September 2015, Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila


Good afternoon everyone. I am pleased to join you in what is a key moment in Philippine media history – that of acknowledging and celebrating the ‘disruptive’ power of technology and innovation, in particular social media, to effect social good. 

I am also glad to be part of something bigger – a global conversation that aims to explore and forge partnerships that will benefit the largest number of people in the largest way possible. 

In 2010, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme teamed up with Mashable and 92nd Street Y and started bringing together people through the Social Good Summit – from world leaders to grassroots activists – to discuss possible solutions to the world’s toughest problems.

For the past four years, Rappler has been organising the Philippine leg of the Social Good Summit and has put the Philippines on the map of this global conversation.  The United Nations in the Philippines, through the United Nations Development Programme, is very happy to be Rappler’s partner in this initiative.

The 2015 Social Good Summit Philippines comes at a very important juncture in our history:

  • Yesterday, at the UN General Assembly and the Sustainable Development Summit, UN member-states formally adopted and launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or the Global Goals, which are an agreed vision to put people and planet on a sustainable path by 2030. In the words of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Global Goals represent a “universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds a historic turning point for our world.” 
    • 17 Goals with 169 targets can in one sense be seen as an immense agenda.  But these are the essential component parts to shift the world to a path of sustainable development - to deliver on economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
    • In a very simplistic message, these global goals aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and take action against climate change.  


  • And in May 2016, Filipinos will choose a new President and a new set of national and local leaders.  Leaders who will take the relay and build on past progress to lead the Philippines towards the achievement of the Global Goals by 2030.

I think you can agree that the confluence of these two events can have significant impact on what the world – YOUR world – will look like 15 years from now in the year 2030.

The Global Goals build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -  eight goals for human development that the world committed to achieving by 2015. The MDGs, adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues including reducing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and increasing access to water and sanitation. Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Let’s see what these have been.

[Video on MDGs transition to SDGs] -(first half)

Let’s pause the video for a moment and have a look at what the Philippines has achieved over the last 15 years on the MDGs 

Goal 1 - Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Poverty incidence has decreased from 34.4% in 1991 to an estimate of 25.8% in 2014.  
  • However, reducing hunger and the prevalence of underweight children, unemployment – and quality employment – remain to be challenges.

Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education

  • More children are now going to school - up to 95.2% in school year 2012-13 from 83.2% in 2006-2007. 
  • The reforms undertaken by the Philippine Government have significantly contributed to progress you have made on education over the last 15 years, and further progress will be made possible with the Kindergarten to 12 or K to 12 program.
  • However despite this improvement, there remains the big challenge to ensure that children actually stay in and finish school.

Goal 3 - Promote gender equality and empower women

  • More girls are enrolling and finishing basic, secondary and tertiary education. 
  • More women are functionally literate than men –their reading and writing skills go beyond the basics and they are able to use these more advanced skills to stay and perform better in school, or gain more meaningful employment.
  • Women have become more visible in terms of political participation, with a steady increase in the number of women elected in the legislative seats and local government positions 
  • In fact, the Philippines leads Asia in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013, wherein the Philippines ranked 5th out of 136 countries – the only Asian country in the top 10 since 2006. 

Goal 4 - Reduce child mortality

  • A significant decrease has been achieved in the number of deaths of infants and children under five.

Goal 5 - Improve maternal health

  • But, there are still many women who continue to have limited access to reproductive health services and die from giving birth.

Goal 6 - Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

  • Deaths from and incidences of malaria have significantly decreased – with 27 provinces declared malaria-free. 
  • The prevalence of tuberculosis is still high, however deaths resulting from it have declined. 
  • But, alarmingly, there is a rapid increase in the number of new HIV infections. 

Goal 7 - Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities have significantly increased. 
  • While air quality remains a challenge, there has been a remarkable performance in decreased consumption of ozone-depleting substances attributed to a number of regulations and policies on improving air quality in the country, including the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1999.
  • However, forest cover continues to decline and the magnitude of slum dwellers continue to rise. 

Goal 8 - Develop a global partnership for development

  • The Philippines has made significant gains in mobilizing domestic public resources, private business and finance and international cooperation in development partnerships.
  • The cost of selected, essential medicines have been cut by almost 50%.
  • The number of people that have telephone and cellular phone access and ownership has significantly increased. 
  • Even if individual internet access is still below the international average of 39%, the Philippines is consistently hailed as the texting capital of the world – you are a country of great social networkers! 
    • This of course makes the Social Good Summit even more relevant and significant as it allows us to discuss and explore collaborations on the tremendous potential of the Philippines to harness technology for social good.

So, much has been achieved but more remains to be done.  Let’s continue to watch the video clip.

[Video on MDGs transition to SDGs] - (second half)

In the lead up to the launch of the Global Goals, the United Nations and partners ran MY World, a global survey which captured people’s voices, priorities and views, for global leaders to listen to when they began the process of defining the new development agenda for the world.

Almost eight and a half million people across the globe have voted for the issues which are the most important to them and their families – from better healthcare to clean water and sanitation, to freedom from discrimination.

In the Philippines, more than 100,000 participated in the survey. Let’s see what issues mattered most to them. 

You will see that the top five issues that Filipinos care most about are: good education, better healthcare, better job opportunities, an honest and responsive government, and affordable and nutritious food.  These, and 12 others, are all part of the new sustainable development agenda – the Global Goals.

Sustainable development is development that improves the living conditions in the present without compromising the resources of future generations.  

Sustainable development is understanding that we are all connected together – in space and time.  Economic and social well-being cannot be improved with measures that destroy the environment. Intergenerational harmony is crucial: all development has to take into account its impact on the opportunities for future generations.   

This means we need to work together to make positive transformations for a more just and equitable society. To achieve this, our leaders will have to be champions and commit to this change.  AND WE MUST ALSO DO OUR PART. 

The Global Goals take a higher aim.  As an example, rather than looking at further reducing poverty over the coming 15 years, the Global Goals speak of ending extreme poverty altogether. 

The Global Goals expand the scope of our actions to what I would call a “whole of humanity, whole of planet” approach.  There is no more a North and a South, we are all concerned.  

The Global Goals recognize that our world is interconnected and that achieving and safeguarding prosperity and sustainability requires all of us, North and South, to join forces, contribute and be responsible in the use of resources and the distribution of wealth.

The Global Goals are a set of integrated and indivisible goals that bring together three crucial dimensions: the economic, the social and the environmental. They take their starting point in five Ps:

People - We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.

Planet - We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Prosperity - We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.

Peace - We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

Partnership - We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

[Video on the Global Goals – ‘We the Peoples’]

So what can we do?  Well first of all, we must care. When people care about something, they share it – face to face or on social media. Because people have something to say about the issues that they represent.  And if we look at stories that have gone viral, we realize that in fact, we do care.

Example 1:

  • Daniel Cabrera, 9 years old, who became a global sensation as he showed his determination to get an education in this viral photo.
  • The photo captured the attention of people all around the world and sparked the #AkoSiDaniel initiative, a fundraising campaign aiming to support education programs in the Philippines. 
  • Daniel now has a scholarship.
  • Daniel’s story connects to Global Goal 4: Quality education


Example 2:

  • This photo of a starving polar bear that has become an icon of the threat of climate change. The photographer, Kerstin Langenberger, agrees that she can’t directly say that the polar bear has become so thin because of climate change. However the photo basically represents the impacts of global warming – drastically changing the natural habitat and natural food sources for the animal to survive. 
  • Typhoon Haiyan is very close to all of us because Filipinos experienced the unspeakable impact of climate change 
  • These stories connect to Global Goal 13: climate action. 

Example 3: 

  • The photo on the left show the traffic gridlock – called ‘carmaggedon’ – on 8 September because of a heavy downpour in Metro Manila. 
  • The worsening traffic situation – and flooding – clearly demonstrate the need for better and sustainable infrastructure which is linked to Global Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. It is also linked to Global Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities. 

In fact, I think you will all agree that we are here because we care. We care about technology and innovation, and we care about development. We care about what kind of world we – and our children – would be living in by 2030.

The Global Goals are everybody’s goals.  They are for me and my children as much as they are for you and your (future) children.

For the Global Goals to be successful, we need to make sure NOW that they become known, are cared about and are acted upon. We all have a responsibility to make this happen.

The Global Goals are far more than inspirations or words of good intent.  They provide a guide for action in the key areas where countries will have to invest in order to move forward.  These global goals need to be backed up by national policies, and will play a major role in shaping where and how resources are used. 

Implementation will be led by countries and its success will rely on countries’ own systems and programmes, and its ability to harness local and global partnerships. The Global Goals will be a compass for aligning countries’ development objectives with their global commitments. 

The United Nations stands ready to assist the Philippine Government reflect the Global Goals in development plans and policies. We can also help accelerate the process and provide policy expertise on governance and sustainable development. These will require leadership, commitment and determination. 

You have a golden opportunity ahead of you by linking the Global Goals to the electoral debate in the upcoming elections as well as the new Administration’s Development Plan, to make sure that the relay and the positive developments from the MDGS are carried forward and expanded in the Global Goals.

You have the vision: it is to build people-centered, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous societies where human rights are upheld.

You have the ingredients: the 17 Global Goals are transformative, and bring together the strengths of government, the private sector, civil society, the youth – really, each one of us.

You have the experience, building on the lessons learned from working towards achieving the MDGs, the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.

Looking at the hugely ambitious agenda of the 17 goals and their 169 targets, and more than 300 indicators, it is easy to be a skeptic.  I, and I hope many with me, chose to be inspired.  Because after all, what’s the point of stopping halfway.

[Video – No point going halfway] -

Let’s tell everyone that it’s time to change the world – use your phones, tablets, computers to do social good and to tell everyone about the Global Goals. For those of us who plan to live 15 more years, we are the first generation that can end poverty and we are also the last generation that can save the planet for future generations.

Thank you.

Watch Mr Almgren's full presentation on Rappler's Youtube:

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