Time is running out on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) and 23 international organizations that agreed to their ambitious objectives in 2000 by 2015.
With just three years left on that commitment clock, over 70 parliamentary and civil society representatives from 19 Asian countries are meeting in Manila yesterday and today for a two-day Forum on accelerating the achievement of the goals and formulating a “post-2015 development agenda.” As one of our committed development colleagues likes to say, “MDG” in Filipino stands for “Mga Dapat Gawin” or “The things that need to be done.” For those living in extreme poverty, failure to achieve the MDGs is simply not an option.
It’s said that great blessings come in small packages. Each year, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and TeamAsia organize—with partners Children’s Hour and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—an annual Christmastime effort to deliver small packages to thousands of children across the Philippines. Starting from humble beginnings four years ago in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (international call sign Ketsana), it has grown to many times its original size, and reach.
Conceived by BPAP former executive director Jonathan de Luzuriaga and TeamAsia president Monette Hamlin, “My Dream in a Shoebox” is championed by the Philippine IT-BPO industry, and has become a beloved Christmas tradition of collecting and distributing shoeboxes filled with school supplies to Filipino children whose families struggle to keep them in school. But today it does much more than distribute school supplies. (Disclosure: BPAP is a client of my firm, TeamAsia.)
After winning a historic landslide election four years ago, US President Barack Obama learned Wednesday morning in Manila that his tight race for reelection—which few imagined even 12 months back when his opponent was locked in an uninspiring battle for the Republican Party nomination—returned him to the White House for what Republican candidate Mitt Romney calls “a second chance” to fix America. Mr. Obama says failure to reelect him would have resulted in a return to the failed and largely unregulated free-market policies of former president George W. Bush.
The irony of that argument is that Mr. Obama’s policies haven’t worked too well, either.
There’s been so much good news coming out of the Philippines in recent months—three upgrades by international ratings agencies; Finance secretary Cesar Purisma was named 2012 Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney; the economy is forecast to be the sixth fastest-growing in the world between 2010 and 2050; there’s a new, credible peace agreement in the south; IT-BPO looks set to attain its stretch target of $25 billion in revenues in 2016; and, competitiveness is on the rise according to the World Economic Forum—that it was a bit of shock last week when the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and The World Bank announced that it’s still too difficult to set up a business here.
And it got tougher this year, not easier.
FORTUNE magazine recently called Harvard Business School (HBS) professor and competitiveness guru Michael E. Porter “the most famous and influential business professor who has ever lived.” Mr. Porter devised the “diamond model” of competitiveness, which companies all over the world rely on to develop competitive strategies. But his influence extends beyond corporate competitiveness. The Harvard icon has also written extensively on national competitiveness as well.
Mr. Porter and a number of his HBS colleagues are now deeply immersed in the HBS U.S. Competitiveness Project, an undertaking “unlike anything the school has attempted” with a specific goal: “making the U.S. more competitive.” Writing in FORTUNE with project co-leader Prof. Jan Rivkin, the two academics note that “America’s feeble economy reminds us every day that our global competitiveness is in trouble,” and they ask, “Whose fault is that?”