PA21, otherwise know as the Philippine Agenda 21, is the nation's blueprint for sustainable development. It is basically made up of (1) the Principles of
Unity, (2) the Action Agenda, and (3) the Implementation Strategies. PA21 was originally the local development of Agenda 21 within the Philippines. Agenda
adopted at the Earth Summit
in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on
development and environment cooperation. The Agenda deals with both the pressing problems of today and the need to prepare for the challenges of the next
PA 21 is the Philippines’ commitment to the UNCED. It also lays down the mix of strategies that integrate the parameters in the country’s overall
development strategy, identifies the intervention areas (Action Agenda) – from the national to the regional level – with the corresponding implementing
platforms and plans. PA 21 envisions a better quality of life for all through the development of a just, moral, creative, spiritual, economically-vibrant, caring,
diverse yet cohesive society characterized by appropriate productivity, participatory and democratic process and living in harmony within the limits of the
carrying capacity of nature and the integrity of creation.
The Philippines was one of the first countries to adopt the Agenda 21 process however, despite its
government’s good intentions, rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialization have far outstripped urban environment services and weak natural
resource management systems have led to rapid degradation of those environments.
Natural Resource Degradation
- Rapid conversion of forestlands and
grasslands to urban use is depleting these natural systems. Agricultural yields in lowland areas are stagnating, and population pressures are stimulating
cultivation of fragile upland areas, causing serious soil erosion. While estimates of deforestation differ, forest cover in the Philippines has certainly been
significantly reduced over the last forty years, due to increasing urbanization, illegal logging, and forest fires. The loss of forests and other critical habitats is
also threatening the Philippines’ rich biodiversity.
Deteriorating Urban Environment
- Air pollution levels in Metro Manila and other cities exceed national
air quality standards and impose a serious economic burden on society. While household garbage collection is improving, 90 percent of sewage is not treated
and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Increasing water pollution is degrading the country’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, and
the quality of half of the country’s rivers fall below water quality norms.
- Water demand is increasing rapidly, but fragmented water
management, weak enforcement of regulations, and poor planning are preventing adequate responses. The adverse impact of water pollution costs the economy
an estimated PhP67 billion annually (more than US$1.3 billion).