ISLAMABAD: Seventeen goals. One hundred and sixty-nine indicators. A population of over seven billion people. One deadline.
That’s what Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are. Implementing the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, if realised as an integrated policy package, will also lead to long-term economic prosperity, human and environmental development.
The SDGs cut across all areas of government – from health and education to ending poverty and achieving gender equality, through to tackling climate change and utilising natural resources sustainably.
The objectives underpin good governance and integrate three dimensions of sustainable development – economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
These are ambitious and complex goals requiring clearly mandated institutions and unflinching commitment to provide resources from the national exchequer for a decade and half. And this implies commitment that is as strong as that for acquiring nuclear technology.
Pakistan is a long way from realising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which it became a signatory to in September 2015. How serious is this claim can be easily verified from a few aligned sectors of SDGs in the budget documents. If trend of sectors like climate, education, health, social protection and energy of the past few years are compared, the trend shows no certain change in budget allocation.
In the Federal Budget 2017-18, the government announced Rs30 billion for Prime Minister’s Global SDGs Achievement Programme. But is this amount enough to make an impact towards achieving SDGs? The answer is no.
The SDGs goals are all issues that demand greater attention from the government than they are presently being accorded. Now with this situation it is very hard to assume that Pakistan is serious to achieve these.
Pakistan has already miserably failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. However, if the government is failing to provide sufficient funds for the SDGs, it must not hesitate to join hands with the private sector, especially in areas where the private sector is well placed to come up with a meaningful contribution.
In order to realise the SDGs effectively, well defined coordination mechanisms among the four provinces are needed. The federation will be strengthened by promoting inter-provincial and federal-provincial communication and co-ordination so that national and provincial priorities are aligned, and the federal and provincial governments work together to advance the sustainable development agenda.
In short, everyone needs to be on board. The vision of achieving these goals needs to be shared collectively. This will enable the process to move forward quickly towards achieving sustainable development and hence a brighter future for all of Pakistan.
But the budget to coordinate with provincial plans is still missing. Scholars and academics need to be brought to the table. The government, civil society, think tanks and development partners in Pakistan must join hands to strengthen the parliamentarians to understand the SDGs.
The writer is a researcher at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2017.