CEBU CITY, Philippines — More than 200 civil society organization (CSO) leaders under the umbrella of the Caucus of Development Non-Government Organizations (CODE-NGO) will convene from November 11 to 13, 2015 for the annual Social Development Celebration at the Vista Mar Resort in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
This year’s theme, "Citizens’ Call: Sustainable, Equitable and Inclusive Development,” will focus on discussing critical and urgent issues that need to be addressed and reforms which need to be considered especially in the light of the coming 2016 elections.
“The Philippines has experienced economic growth in the recent years. But the questions has always been how to make this growth inclusive. How can this economic growth be felt by the poorest in the country," asked Sixto Donato Macasaet, Executive Director of CODE-NGO.
Inclusive and equitable growth has remained a challenge for the government. According to a survey done in 2013 by Pulse Asia, 66% of Filipinos do not feel economic growth. The survey also showed that 12.8 million families still consider themselves “very poor.”
The Philippines is also faced with disasters and climate change impacts that make sustainable development a difficult task.
“Aside from being equitable and inclusive, we also need to ensure that our development is sustainable,” said Macasaet.
The United Nations recently adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or the Sustainable Development Goals. The Philippines is also a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Sendai framework agreement on disasters. Thus, it is important for the country to be aligned in these global goals.
Civil society’s role in development work remain to be as important as that of the government’s.
“We need to work together to achieve the development we want to achieve. We need to engage government agencies and our leaders,” Patricia Sarenas, chairperson of CODE-NGO, said.
“Every end of the year, we come together for our Social Development Celebration. The celebration gives us an opportunity to meet in one place to share stories of what we do in our various communities around the country which helps in the development work we do,” added Sarenas.
"As in previous years, the Social Development Celebration, now to be held in Cebu, is a time when we find spaces of convergence and to feel strengthened by a unity we have nurtured through the years,” stressed Sarenas.
Macasaet agrees with Sarenas. ”During our annual Social Development Celebration, CSOs come together as a community to learn from each other, to identify weaknesses and gaps in our work and to celebrate our gains and strengthen each other,” he said.
Civil society continues to have an active role in the Philippines. Many civil society organizations are involved in grassroots work, policy and advocacy work, and reform agendas.
This year’s SDC will have lawyer Christian Monsod, former chairperson of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), as a keynote speaker and United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Ola Almgren talk about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Social Development Celebration also highlights a presidential candidates’ forum and a launch of the CSO Development and Reform Agenda. This will be in partnership with MEGA CEBU, a program spearheaded by the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), which envisions a wholesome, advanced, vibrant, equitable, sustainable (WAVES) Cebu in 2050.
A crowd of 4,000 is expected for this event, composed of CSO representatives from all over the country, as well as representatives from local governments, businesses, academe and youth sector of Cebu City and Cebu province.
The annual Kasali Ka, Sumali Ka! Social Development Celebration is being co-hosted by the Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CENVISNET) and will include the 19th General Assembly of CODE-NGO, whose 12 member networks represent more than 1,600 development NGOs, people's organizations, and cooperatives all over the Philippines. – Rappler.com
Ted Aldwin Ong is Rappler's lead mover for Iloilo.