Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Monday said the Duterte administration is fully committed to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (U.N.), noting that the Philippines is ready to collaborate on programs that are essential to improve living conditions and quality of life while at the same time working to preserve the environment.

Nograles made the remark after a visit to Malacañang last April 25 by members of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT).

The body encompasses all the entities of the U.N. system which carry out operational activities for development, emergency, recovery and transition in host countries.

“On the government’s part, we fully emphasized the zero hunger program as a key to medium and long-term development.”

“We specifically discussed the administration’s ongoing initiatives in the field of food security, “green economy” and peace, highlighting the impending creation of a Zero Hunger Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the goal of which is to eradicate hunger in the country by 2030, laying down a sustainable and effective national environmental policy, as well as pushing the peace process in Mindanao forward with the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)” Nograles said.

The meeting, the Cabinet Secretary added, focused on exploring “common alignments” between domestic Philippine policy and overall U.N. objectives.

“We covered a range of topics but we zeroed in on our goals that we could collaborate and work together on. On the government’s part, we fully emphasized the zero hunger program as a key to medium and long-term development.”

An executive order creating the zero hunger task force was expected to be signed by President Duterte anytime soon.

“We’ve set a lofty aim of reducing hunger by 25 percent every two and a half years and we have identified a little more than 30 provinces to focus on,” Nograles explained.

The U.N. has likewise targeted zero hunger as a key goal, stressing “better access to food and the widespread promotion of sustainable agriculture.”

According to the international body, the task “entails improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices. It also requires increased investments through international cooperation to bolster the productive capacity of agriculture in developing countries.”

“We just need more discussions and further explorations on how to best use our resources.”

Present during the meeting were officials representing various U.N. agencies, namely Mr. Khalid Hasan, Ms. Kristin Dadey, Mr. Titon Mitra, Ms. Rena Dona, Ms. Jutta Neitzel, Dr. Gundo Weiler, Ms. Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo, Mr. Mark Bidder, Mr. Cris Rollo and Ms. Eden Lumilan.

For his part, the Cabinet Secretary noted the “commonalities of synergies during the gathering, which is not surprising.”

“We just need more discussions and further explorations on how to best use our resources and make the greatest impact in achieving our shared goals,” Nograles said.

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