25 November 2020 | Islamabad – UCLG ASPAC LEAD for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Programme organised an online orientation session on Voluntary National Review (VNR) for SDGs implementation in Pakistan. The session aimed at giving orientation to representatives of local governments on UN guidelines of VNR, the salient features of Pakistan VNR 2019 and the relevance of local governments with SDGs reporting through VNR. Total 29 participants including Local Council Associations representatives and members of previous local government from four provinces participated in the session.

The session started with welcoming remarks from President of Association for Development of Local Governance (ADLG), Mr. Rajan Sultan Pirzada, stating that COVID-19 has changed and slow down work condition all over the world. Yet, he added that when there are challenges, it also brings opportunities, for example adoption of new technology for communication, and we are connected with each other through different online sources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants received orientation through presentation on VNR of SDGs implementation process, key features of Pakistan VNR 2019, the United Nations (UN) forum of High Level of Political Forum (HLPF) for VNR submission, guiding principles and structure of VNR report, also roles and responsibilities of local governments in SDGs implementation and linking it to the authority given to the local government in laws and policies to contribute in achievement of SDGs for the participants understanding. Further, it was also shared that from 2015 up to present moment, 235 VNR have been conducted, 47 countries had submitted their VNR reports in 2019 and Pakistan was one of them. Next year, 43 countries (including Pakistan) will submit their reports.

The discussion was held among the participants around important roles of local government for SDGs achievement and implementation, amendment in local government for empowerment of women on reserved seats to work freely, to highlight LCAs’ voices through different forums like media rallies, workshops print/electronic media at federal and provincial levels and building capacity of district officials for linking water, education, health, sanitation to SDGs. In the discussion, participants also shared way forward and their recommendations below:

  • Continuation and consistency of the local government system and its engagement in VNR process is very important to see SDGs achievement progress in Pakistan.
  • LEAD programme and ADLG should engage local government members including district government to collect their inputs and request government to add them into VNR report.
  • Organisation of a national conference of local government as one conducted by the Ministry of Planning Development in 2017 to convey message to the government for the importance and role of local government in SDGs implementation.
  • Campaign through media about roles of local governments in SDGs implementation and participation of local government in the VNR process.
  • Creating opportunity of getting together of local government members and district officials to assess local development and to how collect local governments’ inputs and data for VNR.

On 5 December 2020, LEAD for SDGs programme also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the provincial Assembly of Balochistan to strengthen cooperation and support each other to effectively contribute to localisation of SDGs in Balochistan Province.  Secretary Provincial Assembly Mr. Tahir Shah Kakar inked the MOU on this occasion.