Agenda 2030 — where does Pakistan stand?
For any country to develop and have sustained life there is need to have sustained health, life, education, access to justice and clean environment. This is the reason and purpose for which countries came under one umbrella to lift people out of poverty. Such type of efforts resulted in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Being one of the signatory countries, Pakistan also pledged to achieve sustainable development goals and it started working towards it through various forms of actions such as development of frameworks at national and provincial level, etc. For this purpose, in the initial phase after signing, the government conducted discussions to dissect the policies and actions post-MDGs with all stakeholders and tried to find out gaps in the policies. After developing legislation and national frameworks focus was shifted towards provinces. Provinces are required to come up with their own frameworks after consultations, literature and data.
Consultations at provincial levels were even taken to the divisional level with the objective to identify the needs of the provinces at divisional level. Provinces came up with their needs which were drafted in number of documents be it in research or be it in official documents.
There are significant gaps and challenges present for the current government and the future governments to work towards achieving agenda 2030. First and foremost, challenge for Pakistan currently is the weak data management system and capacity of stakeholders involved in data management. Starting from national level to the provincial and at divisional level, data is still missing for many indicators which shows that by 2030 number of targets will be missed while achieving SDGs by 2030.
Second, capacity related challenges at national, provincial and divisional level of stakeholders have biggest and significant roles to play in weak performance. Capacity is related to provision of quality services, efficient utilisation of resources and mobilisation of human capital.
With data and capacity, the third challenge is linked to the research and coordination of stakeholders with academia. Therefore, in the academic institutions there is no significant research conducted to come up with policy level directions for government and stakeholders. Thus, no significant research has also resulted in weak level of framework and directions to achieve SDGs. Further this lack of research can also be attributed to the financing which has hindered the growth of research in education sector.
Fourth, as discussed above financing which has hindered the growth of research has shifted the focus of research of the teachers in the institute. The focus of the research has been more of academic type of research with less focus on implementation. Focus of the research mostly focused on number of research work in comparison to the quality of research and implementation of the research.
Fifth, there is weak coordination between governments and line departments at national, provincial, divisional and district level. This weak coordination has therefore resulted in the weak education of the stakeholders and there is less known at the lower levels of the government and line departments about SDGs.
While looking at these highlighted challenges and looking at the standing of Pakistan in this current scenario, it seems that achieving agenda 2030 for Pakistan seems to be challenging. This can be further looked into the weak implementation framework at all levels.
To answer the current challenges and looking deep into the Pakistan’s standing in achieving agenda 2030 there is need to look into the gaps in data and there is need to dig deep into it till divisional level. Further to strengthen the capacity of government, stakeholders and other partners there is need to work on more advocacy, outreach and research in order to bring in flow of the knowledge thus to bring in more focus and work on SDGs.
Similarly, as far as academic focus is concerned there is a need to have more integration of academia as a stakeholder in conducting research on SDGs and involve policy level dialogue so that gaps could be further identified.
Thus, data, research, capacity and coordination are the major challenges which may hinder Pakistan in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, the need of the hour is to improve data management systems, and focus more on research, advocacy and outreach.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.