9 July 2019 | ISLAMABAD – LEAD for SDGs conducted ‘National Stakeholders’ Consultation Workshop on Localisation of SDGs in Pakistan’ and involved stakeholders from the local governments, parliamentarians, civil society and development organisations to discuss the programme design, current challenges and issues. Several recommendations were made to improve the coordination of governments at different tiers and synergies other SDGs related interventions with the LEAD for SDGs programme for Sindh and Balochistan regions.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Ms. Kanwal Shauzeb said in her opening statement that every intervention we plan should be people-centric and sustainable. She stated that the real owner of any development programme is the people when they are engaged and involved. When the required change happens, it ultimately creates a meaningful impact on their lives. She added that SDGs related to human development (i.e. Goal No. 1 to 6) are in the first preference of the government. We are reaching out to those areas that were neglected earlier and left behind by allocating additional budgets for less developed areas like the FATA, Balochistan, and Southern Punjab.

Ms. Shauzeb said that “Pakistan is concentrated on high-powered Local Governments System to Accelerate Progress on Implementation & Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs”. She also highlighted some key features of the new Local Government Act of Punjab that will empower district governments and mayors as per international best practices. She suggested that LEAD for SDGs programme should also focus on creating a well-designed coordination mechanism among the three tiers of government; i.e. federal, provincial and local governments for equilibrium and harmony that will help to localise and achieve 2030 Agenda of sustainable development.

Ms. Shauzeb revered UCLG ASPAC and the LEAD for SDGs programme for generating discussion at this level as Pakistan is now in the phase of new and powerful local government system and induction. The discussions will help determine the loopholes and gaps that will be identified by the 3rd tier representatives as they are well connected with the people and familiar with the realities at the ground. This enables the representatives to identify the needs, develop a sustainable project plan, and find local avenues of revenue generation as local government can do practical actions. She wishes that this programme will help in bridging the gaps between the public services institutions and devising a strategy of interlink coordination.

In the first session, a representative of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform (MoPD&R) presented Pakistan’s country context and status update of the SDGs. This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘the relevance of SDGs localisation’ with panellists represented by the federal government (MoPD&R), local governments (ADLG) and think tank (SDPI) to reflect and learn from stakeholders’ experience.

In the second session, LEAD for SDGs programme, Team Leader, Mr. Ali Imran presented programme background context and design, intervention logic and dynamics for re-validating the outputs envisioned. During the response and feedback, a number of suggestions, including the creation of platforms for advocacy and knowledge management, territory autonomous, empowerment of local governments, devolution of powers, utilisation of innovative solutions and involvement of communities in planning and implementation of the programme, were noted.

In the closing session, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan shared her views on SDGs localisation in Pakistan that the ‘National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs’ is working with statistical authorities to produce district wise SDGs scorecards. These scorecards will help determine the success and failure of each programme, devise focus intervention strategies, allocate the required resources from the PSDP and ADP budgets and make elected representatives accountable for the progress of their constituencies.

She further mentioned that we are working to improve data availability issues. The world has changed its course in solving issues of a common person through an old traditional style. Rather, they are finding more local, innovative, effective and economical solutions for development through the local governments.

“We must adopt innovative solutions to tackle the problems. We understand that the real problem does not occur in the planning or execution stage, but in fact, the problem lies in the misunderstanding of local context and issues by the bureaucracy and the parliamentarians; which actually a local representative understands very well about the local issues like civic registration, education, health, nutrition and economy etc.”

In the closing remarks at the end of discussions, Mrs. Vivien Rigler, First Secretary, Team Lead for Rural Development and Economic Cooperation, of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan, expressed her gratitude to the Members Parliament and stakeholders to show their interest and support for the ‘LEAD for SDGs’ programme in Pakistan.

She stressed that the EU and UCLG ASPAC will keep working closely to provide support to the government and local authorities in identifying the gaps and loopholes and bridging between the governments to ensure empowered and resilient communities; having access to education, rights, justice, the right of expression and to mitigate climate change.

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