Published Date: Dec 6, 2016
SDC- Press Release – day 1
Inaugural Ceremony of 19th Sustainable Development Conference of SDPI
Pakistan in line with UN agenda 2030: Zahid Hamid
Sartaj Aziz calls for South–South collaboration for regional peace, prosperity
Today challenges are global, can’t be solved individually: Abid Suleri
ISLAMABAD: (Dec 06, 2016): Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid has said that the government’s Vision 2025 has seven pillars and 25 goals and these goals are fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which means Pakistan is now in line with the United Nations 2030 agenda.
He was chairing the inaugural session of a 3-day 19th Sustainable Development Conference organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.
With its overarching theme titled ‘Sustainable Development: Envisaging the Future Together’, the conference serves as a forum for exchanging dialogues on sustainable development issues. Development practitioners, social scientists academia, civil society, and policy makers from across the world particularly South Asia are participating in the conference.
Zahid Hamid said implementation of the development agenda is possible with global and regional cooperation, and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an example of this this cooperation. He suggested that South-South cooperation should be examined further to have its better outcomes. “Systemic monitoring machinery as well as capacity building is also required to implement SDGs,” he maintained.
South Asian states are faced with similar challenges of hunger, poverty and climate change and a joint forum is needed to overcome these challenges, the minister said, adding that the PM’s Green Pakistan Programme will help control climate change impacts in different sectors especially agriculture in the country.
Zahid Hamid said establishment of two high level bodies like Pakistan Climate Change Council and Pakistan Climate Change Authority is a foot where advisory role of think tanks like SDPI would be appreciative.
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz highlighted the importance of regional and international cooperation for the implementation of newly-set targets of SDGs. He proposed more investment, adoption of new technologies, capacity building and identification of barriers to achieve the targets of SDGs and Vision 2025 of Pakistan.
In the backdrop of Brexit and US presidential elections, Sartaj Aziz said that after the formation of nationalist governments in the north, the north-south collaboration is in danger, therefore, there is a need to strengthen south-south collaboration for the promotion of peace and prosperity in the region, and CPEC is the right step in this direction.
He said SAARC was a big opportunity to see regional challenges, but its postponement was a great loss. Sustainable development of the country is hidden in trade promotion and not in financial assistance, he said, adding that Pakistan is on the path of peaceful co-existence for the betterment of coming generations.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said this conference provides a platform to evaluate and learn what we have done wrong to avoid these mistakes in future. Furthermore, he added, “we have gathered here to reiterate and reaffirm our commitment to a shared and sustainable future.” He stressed on the importance of cooperation for the development and said that today challenges are global and can’t be solve individually that’s why strong collaboration and coordination of all stakeholder at national, regional, and international level is need of the hour.
Former Ambassador and Chairperson of SDPI BoG Shafqat Kakakhel said that the topics of the conference include issues like socio-economic development, issues related to water and energy sector that cause vulnerability in arid and semi-arid regions and rights of minorities with more focus on the promotion of stakeholder collaboration and integrated investment. He said a strong collaboration at national, regional and world level is essential to achieve SDGs effectively.
Later, speaking at a session on ‘Pakistan’s Macroeconomic Performance: Post IMF Outlook’ SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said: “We should look into the current state of economy in the backdrop of weak export performance, post IMF opportunities and challenges, by linking macroeconomic performance with SDGs, and should rethink about the future of economy .
Abdul Qadir, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Program Coordinator, said changes in economy have its impact on politics, ethics and overall trends. He said material prosperity is a central part of diplomacy and there should be harmony between market economy and democracy. He elaborated that when we talk about economic justice, we actually talk about something related to moral economy. If economic system fails, ultimately democracy derails, he warned.
Ali Salman, the Director of Prime Institute, said when we talk about a free society, it might not be the equal society. “We should focus on the level of growth rate which is enough to meet public debts.” He added that 90% of annual debt payment includes domestic debt payments. He concluded that the situation will not be good until it becomes sustainable.
Sakib Sherani, the ex-principal economic advisor, said that we didn’t achieve the level of growth for which we went for IMF program. “There is no growth in the private sector if there is no adequate investment for it.” He said the reserves build up because of reduction in oil prices. “Exports are weak, balance of payments are not correct, generation policy is not appropriate, and we have been standing on the same position for last 20 years.” He stressed the need to encourage investment in projects rather than programmes in order to achieve the tangible project outputs instead of intangible programme outcomes.
Ms Roshan Broucha, the Member of SDPI Board of governors, said that we should focus on solutions. She also stressed the need for public-private dialogue. Capacity building and awareness about facilities is important. Our embassies should play critical role for attracting FDI, she added.
Dr Pervez Tahir, the chairman of Bank of Punjab, said social sector development is necessary, e.g. gender gap, mortality and fertility impacting the society. Loan for projects will be beneficial instead of loans for programmes. Social scientists should be engaged in planning because they think for social aspects better than economists.
At another session on ‘SDGs: Opportunities and Challenges for Health Sector- The Importance of Data’, UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne said that one of repercussions of lacking the monitoring data leads to the continuation of bad programmes. He said that the biggest issue with respect to data is quality of data along with its open access.
Dr. Peter Taylor of International Development Research Centre, Canada said that all SDGs are inter linked. He highlighted that the use of data by the policy makers is also a point of concern. The issue of reliability and acceptability is challenged to be used by them.
Dr Mahbub Elahi Chowdhury of Health Systems and Population Studies Division, Dhaka, Bangladesh said that in order to maximize the acceptance of data by the policy makers there is a need to institutionalize the data collected by the private sector.
Dr Najma Afzal Khan of Social Welfare and Bait-ul- Maal, Faisalabad highlighted the importance of the robust monitoring system in Pakistan with respect to attainment of SDGs. She suggested that inter sectorial linkages are required to improve data collection.
Dr Rajendra Kumar of Nepal Public Health Foundation said Nepal lags behind achieving SDGs since a lot of efforts as well as budget is spent on tackling the natural disaster. Addressing the issue of data reliability and its acceptance by the government organization, he said that data collection organizations should develop the sense of ownership among the policy makers by involving them in the process from the very beginning.
Dr. Sajjad Akhtar of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said that there is a weak linkage between policy and data use that is required to be addressed. He stressed the need for centralization as Pakistan is dealing with multiple sources and by different provinces that have different timelines and frequency regarding data collection.
Sadia Razzaq of SDPI said that collaborative efforts are required between different organization to minimize the duplication of efforts and for effective data utilization. She informed the participants that SPDI has created a data portal for researchers and policy makers to use it as per their needs.
During another session on Sustainable Energy Solutions for the Region, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Musadik Malik said in energy sector we have three principles, empowerment of life and livelihoods, equity and some kind of justice for the poor. “We have empowerment but not equity. We have tried to create an energy that would allow us to achieve these objectives.” He said Pakistan started LNG plants in order to bring clean energy into the local energy mix and now have two billion cubic feet of gas energy. The third component in our portfolio is coal, he said, adding that we reverted to coal because we had to introduce a cost cutting energy mix for the poor.
Mome Saleem of Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) said Pakistan is a virgin market and we should learn from other countries and derive some lessons.
Ms Rebecca Bertam from HBS, Germany, said after the Paris Agreement, G7 and G13 prices for renewable energy production have dramatically decreased. She said wind and solar energy have become competitive with other form of energy throughout the world.
Dr Tanay Sidki Uyar from Turkey emphasized the identification of resources available, technological improvement, and fossil fuel usage in order to have the cheapest option of renewable energy solutions.
Zeeshan Ishfaq from WWEA said that the country has a lot of wasted potential in producing solar and wind energy. He gave the example of Chitral district project initiated by the Aga Khan Foundation with the help of the local community.
Tao Wang from the Chinese Business Research Institute stressed the need to increase the percentage of renewable energy being produced. According to him, Pakistan could learn lessons from China in governance.
Speaking at a session on ‘Energy-Smart Gird and Remapping the T&D System of Pakistan’, M.A. Jaffar, Chairman SITE Association of Industry said smart grid technology by Chinese companies can help Pakistan reduce the line losses in Pakistan. All the investments can easily be recovered within one and a half years if efficient and cost effective technologies like smart grids are utilized.
Arshad Abbasi, Advisor on Water and Renewable Energy of SDPI, said we need multiple solutions for power transmission while reducing our carbon emissions and energy losses. He added that such innovative solutions can increase the economic viability of the country.
Zou Shinjie, representative form the Chinese delegate, remarked that China is keen to provide Pakistan with Smart Grid Technology to grow its economy, and social progress. By using smart grids, environment friendly transport of power can be ensured, he said.
While describing the effectiveness of the smart grid, Wang Nan from the Chinese delegate, said that they have incorporated the latest technology in it which minimizes the risk for human and capital loss.
MA Lin, the CEO of Tianye Group Co. showed interest for investing in Pakistan and regarded it as a great opportunity to introduce their products in Pakistan.
At the other session titled: “Is it possible to build states by delivering services? Along with that is it possible to increase legitimacy by providing services?” , Richard Mallett from ODI UK said that legitimacy is central to statehood and that states become legitimate when core functions are performed. He further said the dimension to state legitimacy includes input or process, output or performance, shared beliefs and political community along with recognition of sovereignty.
Ms Georgina Sturge from ODI UK said that the study is aimed to generate longitudinal data. He said service delivery is measured through access, satisfaction, problems and participatory process.
Dr Babar Shahbaz assessed the impact of aid on livelihood in post-conflict area of Swat and Lower Dir. He said aid is divided into short-term and long-term. Short- term aid include cash grants, food and non-food items. He said that aid actors worked for rehabilitation in long-term in providing seeds, tools, fertilizers, chickens, livestock and vocational trainings. The speaker said that Jirgas and Hujras are the shortest and quickest ways to go for intervention.
Speaking at a session on ‘Interrelation between poverty and inequality’, Chairperson of Benazir Income Support Program Marvi Memon said: “We’ll have to change our social behaviours, if we want betterment in the socio-economic conditions of women, as it is the main hurdle in the way of women empowerment.
She emphasized the need for sufficient data in case of Pakistan to have better understanding of issues. The core objective of BISP is to manage poverty to make sure no one sleeps hungry at night.
Mustafa Talpur from OXFAM said only 1% people control more that 90% of the wealth of the world and how women and children are more affected by poverty and inequality more in comparison to men.
Junaid Zahid presented multidimensional inequality status in Pakistan. Muhammad Tahseen from SAP said that poverty line is same as hunger line. If in Pakistan 40% people are hungry, it is shameful. He said 40 years ago the main demand from women of Bahawalpur was to have facility of toilets and still the demand is same.
Abdul Hameed Leghari from Urdu University said 14% households have access to drinking water, 40% have toilet facilities, 88% households have electricity, 44% households live below poverty line.
Dr Muhammad Yaseen from University of Sargodha said 22% of people’s income is used for food consumption while the poor households spend 43% of their income for the same.
In a session on ‘Community Driven Development and Social Protection in Conflicts, Sony KC from National Center for Contemporary Research (NCCR), Nepal said that 2.1 million people are senior citizens which is 8% of the total population of Nepal whereas over 80% of old-age individuals receive pensions from the government. Nepal is one of 21 countries who have introduced national policies for the older people but this system is not transparent at all.
Yashodhan Ghorpade from Word Bank Pakistan compared the income support programme like BISP and Watan Card with the conflict in Pakistan. He said due to increase in conflict, access to income support programmes has been decreased in the conflict-hit areas. He has also proved in his study that the existence of Taliban is more likely in those conflict areas where girls’ enrolment ratio is low.
Dr Anita Ghimire discussed the Community Driven Development (CDD) model in conflict areas of Nepal. The role of Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) has empowered marginalized groups (like women) to have knowledge about banks, market, etc. CDD can be effective in conflict areas where state could not reach. However, post-conflict relations of CDD and state should be planned properly to integrate in a better way to have policy coordination.
Dr Ashfaque Hassan, Dean National University of Science and Technology (NUST), said conflict zones affect people’s livelihoods. It is difficult to reduce issues of community in conflict zones of Pakistan. Similarly, income support programmes are still questionable in Pakistan because defining right person for aid is very complex issue for which beneficiary improvement should be brought under observation.
At a session on ‘Effective Institutions’ Capacities and Partnerships for Implementing SDGs: A Provincial Perspective’, UNDP Country Director Ignicio Artaza said Pakistan needs to prioritize SDGs and ensure their implementation through coordination and monitoring. He believed that institutions are linchpins in the implementation of SDGs and they need strong political and financial backing.
Dr Amanullah, the chief economist of Punjab, said that 2015 is considered important for sustainable development.
Miss Khalida Ghous, representative of Sindh government, said that capacity building and coordination among provinces is a key to achieve SDGs this time. She emphasized on structural transformation, integration issues, partnership alignments, interconnectedness, review process and reforms in civil services.
Malik Amin Aslam, Head of KPK Green Initiative, said institutionalization and political commitment behind SDGs’ agenda is a key to achieve them.
Rabia Manzoor, SDPI senior researcher, emphasized on the performance evaluation of each SDG implementation department. She also discussed structural and institutional reforms for achieving SDGs’ target in this regard.
Federal Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan said the SDGs framework is good yet more improvements are required. Federal Government needs to embrace SDGs with full commitment and dedication.
In a session on ‘Water Stewardship, Sustainability and the Way Forward for Pakistan’, Former WAPDA Chief Engineer Shamsul Mulk said a draft of water policy was prepared in 2001 under his supervision and sent to cabinet for approval in 2002 but unfortunately the policy couldn’t be finalized as yet. He said that if we had more water reservoirs then the 2010 floods could be like an ordinary summer flood. He raised a thought provoking question that what we have built for Pakistan?
Dr Zubair Khan said that the provision of drinking water is the responsibility of the local governments but most of the time we don’t have the local government in functioning position as now in the Punjab.
Former Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel said the irresponsible political discourse is a hurdle to efficient management of water resources. Waqar Ahmed said that Nestle is the first company in the world which adopted alliance in water stewardship in the world.
Dr. Tariq Banuri from University of Utha, USA said that the arsenic is becoming a major concern for Pakistan but the technology needed to remove it is costly.
Speaking at a session on ‘Solar Geo Engineering in Pakistan’, Dr Qasim Jan from Peshawar University said high amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases are the primary causes of global warming resulting in changes in rainfall patterns, dying of species, glaciers melt, etc. He said the impact of global warming is more in developing countries, as developing countries are not prepared to bear its aftereffects.
SDPI Research Fellow Dr Fahad Saeed highlighted water and power issues in Karachi.
Dr Andy Parker, Project Director, SRM Governance Initiative, said mitigation remains crucial but doesn’t reduce the risk from the greenhouses gases which are already emitted. He said effects on global average precipitation are a choice and evaporation and transpiration must be considered alongside precipitation.
During another session on “Leveraging CPEC for Regional Cooperation in Energy and Transport Infrastructure”, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that the launch of CPEC official website will reduce the controversies and a comprehensive data will be available on the website for future analysis. He said: “We should be optimistic regarding CPEC and shouldn’t create controversies over it.”
Mr. Wang Nan from China said that security is another big concern over CPEC, so we have to make stable Afghanistan for making CPEC secure in the long-term.
Other speakers, including Dr Safdar Sohail, Dr Miftah Ismail, Dr Abid Suleri, Mr Wang Nan (China) Dr Fran Sun (China) and Mr Shakeel Ramay emphasized regional integration and reducing regional disparities. They stressed the need for making investment on human capital along with investment on infrastructure and industrial sector.
In another session on Gender Demography and Democracy, Dr Nathalene Reynolds from France, while commenting on demographic trends of gender, stressed that women’s role is important in policy making which is neglected in both India and Pakistan.
Batool Zaidi discussed mainly abortions and gender birth related issues in Pakistan compared to other South Asian countries. She said Pakistani communities support sex selective births but no strong evidence was found on empirical basis. The qualitative measures found that birth for sons was encouraged by mother in laws mostly not for economic sense.
Ms Faiza focused on the role of education in the context of gender analysis and found that women are more efficient than men in academic performance.
Dr Luqman discussed gender disparity and intensity of issue in the Punjab. Dr Gulnaz Anjum found weaker role of international and national institutions in the implementation of reforms.
Chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women Khuwar Mumtaz said: we need to focus on gender equality, equal investment in gender and acknowledgement of women in different sectors.
In another session on ‘Gender roles and women education’, Dr Vagisha Gunasekara, researcher from Sri Lanka, said that poor women from lower castes are subjected to violence and harassment that’s why they prefer to work in homes rather than outside. She said that capitalism is a legal way to exploit women.
Dr Ayesha Khurshid said that educated women are more empowered but are still not considered equal to their male counterparts.
Miss Leah W. Pilongo, research dean in USA, said due to patriarchal hold in Afghanistan, beating of women by men is considered religious right and women do not get access to education easily. Harris Khalique from AWAAZ network recommended that societies change when material conditions change; education especially women education is the first step towards development.