Paving the Path: How Pakistan Can Achieve the UN SDGs Agenda 2030?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030 is a comprehensive transformative framework that aims to address pressing global challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change, health and wellbeing and more. For Pakistan, a country with its own unique set of political, socio-economic and environmental hurdles, achieving these goals requires a comprehensive and mutual efforts from all sectors of society. By adopting a multi-faceted approach that integrates policy, prioritizes resources, and cultivates collaboration, Pakistan can pave the way towards fulfilling the UN SDGs Agenda 2030.
This article explores the strategies, policies, and partnerships required for Pakistan with real time scenarios to effectively implement the SDGs, overcome barriers, and make significant progress towards achieving a sustainable and inclusive future for all.
Strategies and policies for effective implementation of SDGs in Pakistan
- National policy formulation and Integration
Pakistan needs to integrate the SDGs into its national policies ensuring that they become a basis of the country’s development strategy. By aligning its policies with the SDGs, Pakistan can effectively prioritize and channel resources towards targeted areas of development, ranging from poverty, education, health and to environmental sustainability. This requires active participation and accountability of all state actors and stakeholders and the establishment of coordination framework to monitor progress and address implementation challenges.
- Financial Resource Allocation
Pakistan needs to allocate its financial resources both nationally and through international aid, to the most pressing issues faced by the country in term of resources and financing. This can play a essential role in reaching the SDGs. This involves integrating the goals and targets into the national budget as well.
Though all SDGs are correlated, still this article explores a few of these separately and offers suggestions and solutions for realizing these goals.
- Good Health and Wellbeing – Goal 3:
- Every Citizen of a country deserves to enjoy good health and wellbeing which not only involves physical health but mental health as well. For physical health and wellbeing, people should have equal access to medical care. Government should increase the budget for health raise the pay scale of doctors in government hospitals and completely abolish the private practice where doctors charge a high amount of fee from patients affordable by the rich only. Sehat Card was a great initiative it should be continued for equal access to healthcare for poor and rich both.
- In addition to physical health, there is a dire need for raising awareness about mental health given the increasing rate of depression and mental health issues in youth who are the future of Pakistan. There has been increase in suicide rates as well so there is a strong urgency to have more mental healthcare professionals and accessible services for people to address their mental health issues. There is no health without mental health.
- Quality Education – Goal 4:
- All genders and people regardless of their social status have the right to equal and free primary and secondary education but the education must of quality. Government must take actions to abolish private schools and improve the education system at government schools so that rich and poor get equal level and quality of education. Same syllabus should be taught in all schools but this has to be participatory and quality education. Because Pakistan’s education system is obsolete and there is no real outcome of 22 years of life long education journey. According to a news source, Pakistan’s education system is 60 years behind compared to modern world. Government and education policy makers should introduce skill based and participatory education so student can be independent utilizing those skills in contrast to cramming and theory-based education system.
- Art and creative expression should be allowed in the schools. Art in its all form can be a great source of spreading awareness about SDGs from gender equality to climate change and participation of people for achieving these goals.
- Ensure Equal Opportunities and End Discrimination – Goal 5:
Law forcing agencies and civil society organizations can play a vital role in attaining the SDGs by community engagement and mobilization. Raising awareness about the SDGs and issues at hand, educating the public, and facilitating active participation, these organizations should work closely with marginalized and vulnerable communities to ensure that no one is left behind in the development process.
For example, SDG no.5, which is about Gender Equality and gender also includes transgenders and they are the most vulnerable and marginalized community of the society. Now the Punjab Police has initiated Tahafuz Markaz for addressing the civil and criminal issues of not only transgenders but differently abled people and runway brides and abandoned children as well. What will happen now is that transgender who would otherwise feel hesitated and often harassed at police stations for the addressable of their grievances, can now directly register their complaints in these Tahafuz Markaz centers and get assistance. This is a great example of a gender equality leading to an inclusive community.
- Sustainable Tourism – SDG Goal 8.9:
Pakistan is rich with natural beauty and landscapes and has a huge potential of attracting foreign tourists for boosting its economy. But there is a strong need to make this tourism sustainable for preserving natural and cultural resources, supporting local communities, and lessening the negative impacts of tourism on the environment.
- For this, tourists should be educated about the importance of responsible and sustainable tourism practices. Encourage them to support local communities and buy locally produced food, traditional and cultural crafts, to boost their economic activity and preserve local heritage. This will also allow in a cultural exchange and understanding among locals and tourists. For example, Skaardu which has recently started direct international flights has a huge potential for attracting foreign tourists and encourage sustainable tourism.
- Climate action- Goal 13:
- Every year Pakistan faces flood in Sindh which does not only cost the human lives but also crops and livestock loss which directly contribute to food crisis, inflation and poverty, structural damage to bridges and roadways, making travel impossible, ruining the mental health of the people suffering in floods. So, all these factors are correlated leading one to another and are part of SDGs. This is the government’s responsibility to be prepared beforehand, and make necessary measures to not only evacuate people and livestock in the flood season to safer places but also take measures to build small dams these regions in order to save the flood water which can be used in the creation of electricity and produce can be saved.
This framework should be included in our annual budget ensuring transparency and monitoring of the assets and resource allocation at governmental level and make sure that officials misusing the resources are held accountable.
- Moreover, there is an urgent need to start Tree plantation for combating climate change. Trees play an important role in lowering the temperature of earth and improve the quality of air we breathe. They also help in reducing carbon and pollution from the emission of greenhouse gases. July 2023 has been recorded as the world’s hottest month over the decades due to increased temperatures by cutting trees and urbanization. So state and all other state actors including civil society and private sector should actively participate in Tree Plantation Drive, create awareness among masses and collaborate with each other to achieve this goal.
- Promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies – Goal 16:
Ther is another amazing example of promotion of peaceful and inclusive society by the Punjab Police that recently established Messaq Centre in liberty Lahore for the protection of the rights of minorities, and the promotion of inter-faith harmony. The Meesaq Centres have been activated in every district and sub-divisions with majority of minorities.
So, this how we can achieve equal human rights protection regardless of gender or religious biases in order to foster harmony and peace and have an inclusive society. More of such efforts are required by Government, Civil society and Private sector for attaining the Goal 10 of SGDs.
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns- Goal 12:
Sustainable consumption and production can be achieved by purchasing locally grown food and supporting the local producers and farmers, reducing waste, changing energy consumption behavior and circular economy can contribute highly towards achieving SDGs.
- For example, a honey lover who purchases imported honey can switch to locally produced honey in Hunza’s by where there are small women owned honey farms. This not only supports women owned business and their participation in the economy but also reduces the environmental costs associated with importing the foreign products such as transporting and its related emission of carbon into the environment.
- Similarly, reducing waste in every possible way from food, water to clothing, will contribute to sustainable consumption. Switching to solar panels can save electricity thus saves the water resources. Similarly using recycled products promotes healthy consumption patterns.
- Individual Circular economy’s example could be that instead of throwing one’s used clothes, they can sell these at a lower cost to the people in need through online platforms. Even leftover or extra foods in our home can be delivered to needy and poor for free through online apps.
- Encouraging the use of bicycles for small distances for reducing pollution and buses to commute by the government.
These are some real time suggestions and solutions where SGDs can be attained by the equal participation of Government, Civil Society, Public Sector and society at large and Pakistan can pave its way to a sustainable country.