Pakistan’s challenges: Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030

  1. No Poverty

The first sTheGlobalGoals_Logo_and_Iconsustainable development goal aims to “end poverty in all its forms” by 2030. Since the government has signed up to SDG 1, they can be asked to adopt the equivalent of US$1.25 per person a day as an official poverty line. The SDGs can also be used to push for a quick consensus on ways of measuring “poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”.

  1. Zero Hunger

By 2030, Pakistan is supposed to “end hunger and ensure access for all, especially for the poor and vulnerable, to nutritious and sufficient food the year round.” By signing on the SDGs, the government has committed to ending all forms of malnutrition. However, independent of these commitments, if the country wants to achieve high growth rates and sustain the latter to ensure development, hunger and food insecurity need to end. The tragedy is that it is not the case that Pakistan is not producing enough food. It can easily afford to provide adequate nutrition for all citizens. It is a question about asymmetric income and wealth distribution which, in turn, results in iniquitous access to food.

  1. Good Health and Well-being

With Goal 3 – promoting good health and well-being – calling for an integrated approach crucial for progress across multiple goals, including alleviating poverty and hunger, the focus includes a commitment to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030. It also aims to achieve universal health coverage, and provide access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines for all.

  1. Quality Education

Goal 4 prioritizes equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. This goal has seven targets and three means for implementation, covering all levels of education; from early childhood, primary to secondary, technical vocational for decent jobs, and university through formal, non-formal and technology enabled channels, conducive learning environments, adequacy of trained teachers and opportunities for scholarships to pursue continuous learning.

  1. Gender Equality

The Gender Gap Index 2015 ranked Pakistan 2nd from the bottom among 145 countries. Goal 5 aims to address gender equality and women empowerment. Poverty, poor health and illiteracy make almost 50pc of the country’s population who are not full participants in the realm of socio-economic development. The low status of women, in fact, deprives the state of realising the full productive potential of half the population.

  1. Clean Water and Sanitation

Goal 6 of the development agenda talks about ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation; eight specific targets have been formulated to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all, to end open defecation with special attention given to the needs of women and girls.

  1. Affordable and Clean Energy

For affordable clean energy, Pakistan requires more transmission lines, cost-effective production, better-regulated renewable energy markets. Germanwatch’s latest Global Climate Risk Index, which measures how nations are affected by weather-related disasters, ranks Pakistan as the world’s 8th most impacted nation. Experts have estimated that about a quarter of the country’s land area and half its population is vulnerable to climate change-related disasters. With its dry climate, extreme weather events, and natural resource shortages, the country’s climate vulnerabilities can’t be overstated.

  1. Decent Work and Economic Growth

Goal 8 empowers governments to break free from the shackles of aid and propels nation-states towards making greater strides in trade, growth, jobs and safeguarding the dignity of individuals, communities and nations. And, for the first time, there is an unequivocal opportunity for the private sector and businesses to join hands with governments and the international community, and test their mettle in the cause for sustainable development.

  1. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Goal 9 aims to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation”. This goal recognises firstly, that sustainable human development improvements cannot come without economic growth, particularly in manufacturing. Every job in manufacturing creates 2.2 jobs in other sectors and is therefore critical in generating employment. Secondly, it places the signatory countries’ sights on a goal that is beyond physical manufacturing and assembly, to the higher value addition processes of innovation, research and design.

  1. Reduced Inequalities

Goal 10 focusing on reducing inequalities by 2030 underscores the need for policies ‘to achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40pc of the population at a rate higher than the national average’ among other targets — all focused on inclusive economic growth. For the country as a whole, 48pc of rural households are landless, with the highest incidence of landlessness at 62pc in Sindh.

  1. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11 – sustainable, green and resilient cities – forms the defining constructs of an emerging urban planning paradigm that is fast gaining global traction. Here, strategic plans are replacing master plans. Gated communities and urban sprawl, supported by private automobile-friendly transportation infrastructure, are being discouraged to promote mixed, integrated neighbourhoods with walking and bicycling supportive streets. With more than half of the world’s population presently residing in urban centres, these designs serve as the frontlines in the battle against climate change.

  1. Responsible Consumption and Production

Goal 12 calls for ensuring sustainable consumption and production, reaffirming global consensus on the centrality of sustainable practices in the quest for sustainable development. The targets linked to Goal 12 include sharp cuts in food losses and waste; environmentally sound management of chemicals; sustainable public sector procurement; enhancing knowledge and awareness about the benefits of sustainable practices and lifestyle; rationalisation of fossil fuels subsidies; and strengthening the scientific and technological capacity of developing countries to embrace SCP.

  1. Climate Action

Goal 13 specifically calls for ‘urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts’. About 45 of the 169 targets related to this goal highlight the need to tackle climate change and avert impacts, particularly on food, water, energy and economic development. The challenges of climate change and its adverse impact undermine the ability to achieve Vision 2025 — Pakistan’s development blueprint. Adverse climate impacts are reflected through increased floods, prolonged droughts, changing temperatures and extreme weather events — heat-waves, glacial melting, changing monsoons and cropping cycles.

  1. Life Below Water

Goal 14, aimed at the Integration of Oceans into the SDG framework, calls for commitment to ensuring the sustainability of oceans and marine life with special attention to the welfare of populations dependent on ocean life. Pakistan has witnessed various happenings in its ocean fisheries environment, with numerous incidences of large mammals – sharks and whales – washing up dead on its coastlines, similar to the incidence of the whale deaths reported in Australia earlier this year. With seas and oceans being over-polluted due to human activity and serving as repositories of human waste, chemical pollution and dumping grounds for industrial non-useable outputs, our ocean has turned into a junkyard. This toll on marine life directly impacts the welfare and livelihoods of communities dependent on these resources.

  1. Life on Land

Goal 15 focuses on protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. Pakistan is poised for a turnaround of the system. Rapid action is needed to sustain populations with the erosion of land resources. A reversal is possible provided a science-based approach is followed along with institutional reform and resource mobilisation.

  1. Peace, justice and strong institutions

Goal 16 aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

This goal has 12 targets that include reduction in violence and related death rates; an end to abuse, trafficking, exploitation, violence and torture of children; rule of law and equal access to justice; substantial reduction in corruption and bribery; effective, accountable and transparent institutions; responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making; provision of legal identity for all, including birth registration; public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms; and strengthening of institutions to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

  1. Partnerships for the Goals

Goal 17 that aims to revitalise global partnerships for development by building domestic means to implement the SDGs. Global partnerships must have varied elements: more development assistance, debt relief, trade agreements that help developing countries find markets and better conditions for foreign and domestic investment. Partnerships matter when lifting people out of poverty, when protecting the environment and when building peace — partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society and the international community.