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Published Date: Aug 5, 1993

Pakistan’s Annual Report to the Commission on Sustinable Development National Implementation of Agenda 21 (P-9)

Information on National Sustinable Development Strategies

Pakistan had formulated its own "Agenda 21" well before the Rio Conference. Pakistan’s Agenda 21 is the National Conservation Strategy (NCS), which was approved by the Government of Pakistan (GOP) on March 1, 1992. All reports regarding strategies, policies and programmes for sustainable development will be drawn up on the basis of the NCS.

The NCS is not only a strategy for the conservation of natural resources. It is a strategy for sustainable development, and seeks to incorporate environmental concerns directly into decision making processes in the country. As such, while the Pakistan NCS is the cutting edge of the response to environmental concerns, it is by no means the only one. A major element in the implementation of the NCS is the need to incorporate and integrate other policy measures introduced from time to time into a coherent and effective package.

The fundamental objectives of the NCS are: conservation of natural resources; sustainable development; and improved efficiency in the use and management of resources. The structure of the strategy as well as its implementation draws heavily upon government and other agency involvement, as well as non-governmental organisations and the private sector. Government sponsored and other rural support programme are being used in a concerted effort to involve rural communities in the planning and analysis process.

The NCS is a unique process and we believe that it can be offered as a model for other countries. The most significant part of the NCS is that it was developed through a process of partnership between many different groups, organisations and individuals in the country, both within and outside the government, and is being implemented in the same way. As a result, the NCS has begun to reshape the very approach to governmental decision making. It is helping Pakistan move away from direct administration and towards partnership. This is probably the real reason for its strength. Of particular note is the involvement of a non-governmental organisation (The World Conservation Union IUCN) in the management of strategy development along with the government.

Based on the experience of the NCS, our view is that policies should be directed principally at institutional strengthening and human resource development, especially of local and provincial level. While it is important to include specific projects with clearly identifiable outcomes, there is a danger in placing an emphasis exclusively on output targets. The focus in the first phase of the implementation programme of the NCS is on preparing and acting on a package of incentives, institutional reforms, and mass awareness; and selected projects are included mainly for their role as pilot activities.

The detailed programme of the NCS has to be viewed in the above context. The NCS has outlined an extremely comprehensive agenda for action. It identifies 14 core programme areas (please see Box 1), with long-term goals for each component, physical outputs expected at the end of a ten year period (1992-2001), and an estimation of economic benefits and costs, tied to macro-economic forecasts of GDP and gross national investment. Currently around 4 per cent of national investment is made in these areas; the NCS has made a case for increasing it to 8 per cent by the year 2001 through an investment programme tentatively estimated at Rs. 150.7 billion. Again, it should be emphasised that the specific projects are neither new nor unique. Numerous activities consistent with these objectives have a long history in Pakistan’s development experience, such as projects to reclaim waterlogged and saline lands, population control programmes and on-farm water management.

After approval of the NCS, the GOP established a cabinet level implementation committee, headed by the Minister for Environment and Urban Affairs, to co-ordinate the implementation of the strategy. The Plan of Action, 1993-98 (PoA) emerged out of the direction given by the cabinet committee. It formed the basis of the presentation to the donor conference on the implementation of the NCS in January 1993. The implementation committee identified three cross-cutting areas where immediate action was called for: (1) institutional strengthening for the removal of structural weaknesses in the government infrastructure; (2) mass awareness, so that people understand and are able to integrate the NCS into their lives; and (3) regulatory legislation and economic incentives, so that the governmental programme is integrated into legislation, and economic incentives are used to engender voluntary compliance with these goals. The fourth area, namely implementation of pilot projects in NCS priority areas would help not only in meeting urgent needs, but also in building a consensus behind the plan of action.