7 July 2021 I ISLAMABAD – UCLG ASPAC LEAD4SDGs Programme in Pakistan organised a “National Policy Dialogue on Resource Allocations for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” in collaboration with the National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs and the Association for Development of Local Governance (ADLG) in Islamabad. The policy dialogue brought together legislators and executives from federal and provincial governments as well as members of the local government associations, civil society, and the media to deliberate on financial resources allocated to implement SDGs in the Country and to propose policy recommendations for the effective localisation and implementation of SDGs as per the United Nations Agenda 2030.

The policy discussion was based on a research study “Analysis of Budgetary Allocations for SDGs,” conducted by the LEAD4SDGs programme, which provides empirical evidence on how far the federal and provincial governments have taken the SDGs into account when preparing their annual budgets. The dialogue also provided an opportunity to discuss the role of local governments (LGs) which is critical to achieving almost 65% of the SDGs, introducing SDGs aligned planning and budgeting at the provincial and local levels, and improving SDGs related data collection and reporting capacity at all levels.

Dr. Benadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC, joined the event virtually and shared her thoughts on the need to align and integrate the SDGs into the local planning and development process besides allocating annual budgets for SDGs implementation. She appreciated the positive steps taken by the government of Pakistan being the first country to adopt SDGs through a unanimous resolution of the Parliament. She also praised the effort of establishing Parliamentary taskforces and UNDP’s SDGs units at the Federal and Provincial levels who are providing support to the Ministry of Planning and Development of Pakistan to achieve the Agenda 2030. She highlighted the need for mobilising and utilising the resources essential for the pandemic recovery to meet the agenda 2030 through innovation and willingness at all tiers of the government.

Some key findings of the research report were also shared during the policy dialogue that highlighted significant reductions in the revised allocations to SDGs in the financial year 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. COVID-19 has the most affected seven SDGs in Pakistan that includes Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, Climate Action, the study declares.

The policy dialogue provided a platform to the policymakers, the executives, media, and civil society organisations to share their valuable recommendations for better and effective implementation and reporting of SDGs in the country. Below are some of the key recommendations:

1. The legal framework in Pakistan is complicated that requires simplification, efficiency and effectiveness besides having subordinate legislations. The concept of SDGs localisation refers to the bottom-up approach: 1) how the SDGs can provide a framework for local development policies and how the LGs can support the national and provincial governments in the achievement of the SDGs through necessary actions. The LGs in Pakistan should be strengthened to achieve Agenda 2030. In this regard, the capacity of the LGs should be built on data collection against SDGs thus enabling evidence-based policymaking at all levels;

2. The articulatory role of media, where it shapes public opinion on fact, evidence and principles, remained under-formed. The media is not very effective in articulating the issues related to SDGs. The media should play its role as a watchdog to push the supply side institutions for higher standards of institutional accountability and responsiveness. It is suggested to build the capacity of media to raise awareness and monitor the implementation of Agenda 2030;

3. The Federal budget should be developed in consultation with the LGs and must be aligned with the SDGs;

4. Gender-responsive budgeting and inclusion of women in policy-making should become mandatory;

5. International best practices and success case studies on SDGs implementation must be shared with relevant authorities to adopt those strategies in a national context;

6. SDGs should be introduced in the university curriculum to inform our youth on Agenda 2030, its importance and relevance to their professional and personal lives.

Member of National Assembly and Convener – National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs, Riaz Fatyana, concluded the dialogue and highlighted the contributions of the current government through different initiatives of the EHSAAS programme towards the achievements of SDGs. He also mentioned the importance of data collection towards the achievement and implementation of SDGs and shared the successes of the current government on priority SDGs.

Javaid Hasan, Team Leader of LEAD project, unfolded the research and unlined the key areas like institutional arrangements, formulation of national and provincial frameworks on SDGs, and alignment of national and provincial development strategies with agenda 2030. He said that the lack of information is a key stumbling block in the formulation of government policies and assessing the impact of SDGs interventions. In addition, the weak statistical capacity at national and sub-national levels is also one of the biggest challenges in the timely collection, analysis and reporting of data related to SDGs. Necessary coordination and structures are largely developed but need further improvement and standardisation.

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