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National Activities: Philippines

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National Workshop on Indicators of Sustainable Development
5 June 1998
Manila, Philippines

Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific
(in cooperation with the National Economic & Development Authority -
Philippine Council for Sustainable Development)



1. The National Workshop on Indicators of Sustainable Development was jointly organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) - Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) at The Manila Galleria Suites, Philippines on 5 June 1998.

A. Attendance

2. Seventy-two participants representing various government agencies, the civil society, business and labor sectors, research institutions, statistical agencies and the academe attended the Workshop. In addition, representative from ESCAP and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also attended the Workshop. A list of participants is attached in Annex I.

B. Opening of the Workshop

3. Mr. Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Deputy Director General (DDG) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Coordinator of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) welcomed the participants and acknowledged the presence of the representative of ESCAP. He recognized the importance of developing indicators of sustainable development and provided the participants with the background/rationale of the Workshop. The objectives, expected outputs and Workshop procedure were also explained.

4. The representative of ESCAP thanked the Government of the Philippines for its cooperation in organizing the Workshop and highlighted efforts of ESCAP in developing a network of countries which were testing the indicators of sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.

5. Mr. Delfin J. Ganapin, Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, delivered a brief message. He noted that a large and wide participation in the workshop reflected the level of maturity in the Philippines in terms of willingness to measure sustainability of the development process in the country. He identified a number of issues that needed to be discussed, namely, (a) promoting wide acceptance for the indicators of sustainable development (ISDs); (b) developing acceptable procedure and involving credible institutions in the analysis of ISDs; and (c) developing a mechanism to bring in all relevant efforts such as environment and natural resource accounting into the indicator development process.

C. Designation of Officers

6. Deputy Director General Raphael P.M. Lotilla was designated as Chairperson of the Workshop in the morning session, while Mr. Dan Songco from the civil society as the chairperson for the afternoon session of the Workshop.

D. Adoption of the Agenda

7. The Workshop adopted the following agenda:

  1. Opening of the Workshop;
  2. Overview the global and regional efforts on indicators of sustainable development
  3. Results of the study on the formulation of indicators of sustainable development in the Philippines
  4. Priority issues and dimensions for the selection of core set of indicators of sustainable development in the Philippines
  5. Matching of priority issues and dimensions with the indicators of sustainable development in the Philippines
  6. Closing of the Workshop
  7. Adoption of the report

(Item 2 of the agenda)

8. Under this agenda item, the representative of ESCAP presented the diagnostic, monitoring, planning and implementation roles of indicators of sustainable development. In addition, an overview of the programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was provided, along with the regional and national efforts at the development and field testing of indicators of sustainable development.

9. The importance of having good information available for decision-makers was stressed, while noting the paradoxical situation that although information sources were proliferating at an astounding rate, decision-makers often found it difficult to obtain the right kind of information. It was stressed that indicators provide a means to bridge the information gap. However, it was also mentioned that although indicators had many advantages in terms of providing concerns and aggregated information, they also had various pitfalls that one needs to keep in mind while using them.

10. The criteria used in selecting the menu of indicators of the CSD and the process of consensus building that was used in selecting them was also described. The Driving Force-State-Response (DSR) framework was explained as a means of organizing the indicators and providing an appropriate analytical framework. The CSD work programme on indicators was explained, together with the current status of its implementation, including completion of the methodology sheets for each indicator that was contained in the publication, entitled "Indicators of Sustainable Development: Framework and Methodologies". The various elements of the methodology sheets were also described in a concise manner.

11. Strong emphasis was placed on the methodology for actual selection of a core set of indicators at the national level. The difficulties in selecting issues and uses and in obtaining supporting data were explained. A case study was presented on the method used for selecting a menu of possible indicators suitable for the Asian and Pacific region in the document "Towards Indicators of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific". It was pointed out that the menu was based on the regional priority issues reflected on the Regional Action Programme adopted by the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok in 1995.

12. The Workshop was also briefed with examples from various countries on how indicators can be used in practical planning and charting a course towards sustainable development. The case of Netherlands was elaborated where besides target setting, indicators were used to play a major role in forward planning process. Agreement on targets was accomplished through a national discussion and consensus on environmental problems involving all stakeholders, thus enabling the country to focus on decision-making and taking appropriate actions. Adoption of the life-cycle approach helped in defining problems at their source and identifying actors and organizations responsible for action. Based on this approach, themes (environmental problems) and target groups (economic sectors) were identified, leading to integrated and focused efforts at environmental protection.

(Item 3 of the agenda)

13. Under this agenda item, presentations were made and discussed on the efforts made towards indicators development under the Integrated Environmental Management for Sustainable Development (IEMSD) Programme. The IEMSD programme is jointly implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Economic and Development Authority with funding from the United Nations Development Programme. In particular, the study on the development of a national set of sustainable development indicators (SDIs) launched in March 1997, resulted in the publication of "A Sourcebook of Sustainable Development Indicators". The indicator set derived by the study was based on the existing sources including those available from CSD, ESCAP and other countries. The programme was reinforced with the initiation of ESCAP project on indicators of sustainable development and the undertaking was envisioned to establish a systematic way for monitoring and reporting on the state of the nation's development consistent with the concept of sustainability. The Philippine Council for Sustainable Development's (PCSD) policy of soliciting multistakeholder participation was applied throughout the conduct of the study. A total of 4 consultation workshops were conducted during the study and participated by government line agencies, academe, research institutions, and NGOs.

14. The specific objectives of the study were to: (a) review the literature on indicators of sustainable development, focusing on those that have been adopted and are already operational in other countries; (b) formulate a framework for a system of ISDs for the Philippines to assist in future monitoring of compliance with the Philippines Agenda 21; and (c) pilot test the proposed ISDs using recent data for the Philippines (1993 to 1995). For practical purposes, the indicators suggested by the study were limited to those based on readily available data or data that researchers felt should be part of the regular monitoring process of the government.

15. The criteria used in selecting the indicators for the Sourcebook were useful for policy and decision-making, feasibility, cost effectiveness, accuracy, reliability, timeliness and validity. The study adopted three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental and focused on growth with equity, peoples empowerment and maintenance of ecological integrity as the main issues.

16. The Philippine Agenda 21 which defines the action and intervention strategies at the level of ecosystems, was used to guide the selection of indicators. As a result, the study generated a subset of indicators for seven identified ecosystems and critical resources, namely: forest/upland ecosystem, agricultural/lowland ecosystem, urban ecosystem, coastal/marine ecosystem, freshwater ecosystem, minerals/mines, and biodiversity. Additional indicators on four other issues including: the domestic issues relating to the manufacturing sector, the energy sector and science and technology, plus the global climate change as an international issue were also added to the list. Moreover, indicators of well being were included as major determinants of the standard of living in the menu to reflect such aspects as productivity, unemployment and income distribution; and measures of the level of satisfaction of basic human needs such as education, health, housing, safe drinking water, sanitation and clean environment. Altogether, the study provided a menu of 153 indicators for the Philippines.

17. Besides identifying menu of indicators, the study highlighted areas for further work. It was suggested that the indicators selected for the menu by the study should be trimmed down to a more manageable level after further evaluation and screening by different government line agencies and stakeholders. The construction of indices was also recommended for aggregation so that the problem of managing the staggering number of proposed indicators could be simplified.

18. The Workshop noted that subsequent to the study, an experts workshop had been convened to guide the future work on indicators, particularly in formulating indices of sustainable development. That workshop recommended to continue work on filtering a core set of indicators from the menu of 153 indicators according to the three main components of sustainable development (economic, social and environment) and to proceed on the development of indices, using a combination of socio-economic index (human development index-HDI), an environmental quality index, and an overall index of sustainable development. As a result, 44 indicators were selected as basis for the construction of an index. The Workshop also proposed to formulate two indices for strong and weak sustainability. It was also recommended to pursue a research agenda to (a) streamline the framework for formulating the core set of indicators; (b) conduct a study on ecological integrity index; (c) improve the human development index by incorporating factors provided in the Philippines Agenda 21; and (d) explore the possibility of coming up with an index of sustainable development.

19. The Workshop noted that the previous work on indicators conducted in the Philippines and elsewhere provided very good basic materials for future work on indicators of sustainable development in the Philippines. It felt that the most important step towards selecting a core set of ISDs was the adoption of priority dimensions and issues for the Philippines.

(Item 5 of the agenda)

20. Under this agenda item, the Workshop selected the various dimensions of sustainable development and adopted priority issues of concern for each dimension. The following dimensions were selected: (a) economic; (b) social/cultural; (c) ecological; and (d) institutional/political. The issues of priority concern adopted for each priority dimension were, as follows:

(1) Economic:

  1. Equity in income and wealth
  2. Growth/Sources of growth (technology, consumption e.g., energy, investment)
  3. Productivity
  4. Employment
  5. Indebtedness

(2) Social/Cultural:

  1. Education (Access, Quality, Literacy)
  2. Health (Sanitation, Safe water, Malnutrition)
  3. Housing
  4. Population
  5. Indigenous knowledge and practices
  6. Cultural and Moral Values (Crime, Peace and Order, Prostitution, Drug Abuse)

(3) Ecological/Environmental:

  1. Resource Depletion (for upland/forest, lowland/agricultural, urban, coastal/marine and freshwater ecosystems)
  2. Ecosystem Degradation (for upland/forest, lowland/agricultural, urban, coastal/marine and freshwater ecosystems)
  3. Pollution of air and water

(4) Political/Institutional

  1. People Empowerment through multi-stakeholdership approach
  2. Local Governance/Capacity Building/Financing
  3. Resource Management Mechanisms

21. Following the plenary discussions and identification of issues, the workshop was divided into four working groups to discuss and identify the core indicators for areas/issues of priority concern.

22. The working groups were assigned the priority dimensions as follows:

  1. Group I - economic
  2. Group II - socio-cultural
  3. Group III - ecological/environmental
  4. Group IV - institutional/political

The working groups identified specific indicators that would match the respective issues of concern within the dimensions allocated to them. As a result of deliberations in the respective working groups, 21 indicators were identified for the economic dimension, 17 for socio-cultural, 33 for ecological/environmental and 9 for institutional/political dimension. Annex 2 shows the detailed listing of these indicators.

23. The outcomes of the working groups' deliberations were presented to the Workshop, which felt that the exercise had resulted in extremely useful and a balanced set of indicators of sustainable development in terms of dimensions of sustainable development. It was pointed out, however, that these needed further refinement in terms of indicators framework highlighting driving force, state and response indicators to enable the identification of root causes of deteriorating state and development of appropriate response strategies. The Workshop also made recommendations on institutional capacity building and human resources development. Institutional support to build capabilities of agencies in data collection, compilation and analysis, was advocated along with training for the development of skills in the use of indicators.


24. Mr. Cielito F. Habito, Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority and Chairperson, Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), delivered the closing remarks. He expressed his gratification and appreciation for the active participation of all stakeholders in making the Workshop a success. He also thanked the Chairs of the plenary and working group sessions for effectively steering the discussions. He acknowledged the cooperation and generous support extended by ESCAP and the Government of Netherlands in organizing the workshop. In conclusion, he emphasized the need for continued work on ISDs in the Philippines not only to serve the national interest but also to make contribution towards global efforts to achieve sustainable development.


25. The Workshop adopted its report on 5 June 1998.

Additional Reports