Country context

The Philippines is one of the emerging economies in Southeast Asia. In recent years, the country has also restored stability with proven resilience to food and fuel price hikes, the global financial crisis, and the impact of severe typhoon and other climate and weather disturbances allowing the country to graduate to the rank of “Lower Middle Income” by the end of 2009. The Philippines proved its resilience by posting a GDP growth rate of 6% for the first half of 2014 despite being hit by one of the strongest typhoon (Haiyan) recorded in history in November 2013. Annual GDP growth rate has averaged 6.7% from 2012 - 2014. (Source:Philippine Statistics Authority).

Growth however is hardly inclusive. Approximately two-thirds of the country’s GDP can be attributed to only three out of the seventeen regions in the country. Poverty incidence has declined marginally from 2009 – 2012 with about a quarter of the population considered income poor. Unemployment rate averaged at 7% for the past 3 years. Achieving inclusive growth is the top priority of the Philippine Development Plan 2011 – 2016 (PDP). Much has to be done in translating the economic gains to tangible improvements in the social, economic, as well as environmental conditions of the people. (Source: Philippine Development Plan Mid-term Update)

Compared with its neighbors, the country’s economic performance in terms of investments, exports, and competitiveness is lagging behind and needs to be improved in order to take full advantage of the benefits from the anticipated establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. Over the past years, a decreased share of the manufacturing sector in the country’s gross domestic product can be observed. The potential of this sector to create employment opportunities has not been utilized. The agriculture and fisheries sector’s potential remains untapped due to low rate of adoption of technologies, inefficient supply chain and logistics system, climate change, and environmental degradation.

Another important development challenge in the Philippines is found in the The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  Being one of the poorest regions in the Philippines, the ARMM’s development needs are vast and wide-spread.  Its economic and social condition has been constantly affected by insurgence in the region.  Huge amount of resources remains untapped in this part of the Philippines. Negotiations have led to the formulation of the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro. This served as a preliminary peace agreement and led to the creation of an autonomous political entity named Bangsamoro which replaced the ARMM.

Statistics show that 55.8% of the Bangsamoro live in poverty. One million of the Bangsamoro of working age are outside the labor force wherein 75% are women. About 42% and 63.2% of the households have no access to electricity and safe water source, respectively. (Source: Bangsamoro Development Plan ) Clearly, development gaps exist in the Bangsamoro Region and a milestone was reached when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on March 27, 2014. This paved the way for the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan which will provide development opportunities for the Bangsamoro provinces.

Presently, in line with government priorities outlined in the Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016), the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in the Philippines has formulated the United Nations Development Assistance Framework 2012-2018 with the main theme of “supporting inclusive, sustainable, and resilient development. This framework allows opportunities to create synergies among competitive advantages of the various agencies that ensure effective and efficient implementation of development projects.   Recent refocusing includes the mainstreaming of both governance and youth–related concerns.