The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations. It is situated in Southeast Asia in the Western Pacific Ocean. Its islands are classified into three main geographical areas – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Because of its archipelagic nature, Philippines is a culturally diverse country. With its topography consisting of mountainous terrains, dense forests, plains, and coastal areas, the Philippines is rich in biodiversity. It is considered as one of the mega biodiversity countries in the world with a high percentage of flora and fauna endemism.
There are wide disparities in income and quality of life across regions and sectors in Philippines. The number of poor people remained high (26.5 percent of the total population lives below the poverty line, including 10 million women). While the country is abundant in natural resources, environmental assets remain unavailable to poor groups owing to exclusion, insecure land tenure, lack of access to technologies; or the resources are degraded.
The Philippines has important policy frameworks and plans in place for sustainable human development, including the National Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act, the National Human Rights Action Plan, and the Magna Carta of Women. The Volunteering Act enhances civil society development work through volunteerism.
The Local Government Code, transferring governance functions to local governments and decentralizing social service delivery, is 20 years old. However, implementation of these policies and plans is still hampered by gaps in capacities, especially at the local level. The Philippines has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.