Asset 1

Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Energy Governance.

To strengthen Policy Narrative, Commitment for Improved Investment and Recovery packages to make transition towards Renewable Energy and Climate Resilience in Pakistan

Partner/Donor: European Climate Foundation

Duration: November 2020 to November 2021

Team Members: Dr. Abid Q. Suleri, Dr. Hina Aslam, Dr. Sajid Amin, Ahad Nazir, Ubaid Ur Rehman Zia, Abdullah Khalid, Ayesha Ilyas


Pakistan plans to expand energy production from coal to more than double (7615 MW) from its current operating capacity (3770MW). Energy production from coal is a continuing trend which remained in single digit percentage over the last two decades, however jumped in 2018 to 12.7% coal consumption in the energy mix after the CPEC. With the already fossil fuel-dominated energy mix, further expansions will make it difficult for the country to align with PA goals.  The utilisation of renewable energy sources is very limited, with installed capacities at approximately 1.1% in 2018, although the country has high renewable energy potential.  Air pollution is another issue of concern in Pakistan, with deaths attributed to air pollution estimated to about 128 000 in 2017 (State of Global Air, 2019).

It is important to understand that Pakistan is at cross-roads. According to estimates of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), Pakistan’s indigenous oil reserves will exhaust by 2025, and Pakistan will run out of domestic sources of natural gas by 2030.This necessitates the need for diversification of the current fuel mix and reduce the power generation cost per unit.

In this backdrop, Pakistan has drafted Alternate and Renewable Energy (ARE) Policy 2019. ARE 2019 aims to create a conducive environment for the sustainable growth of ARE Sector in Pakistan. Under the new draft policy, Pakistan intends to have 20% of its generation capacity as ARE technologies by 2025 and 30% by 2030 (20X25 and 30X30 target). Thus, the research carried out under this project, and advocacy carried out shall naturally garner support from the relevant government institutions such as Ministry of Energy, Alternate Energy Development Board, and Ministry of Climate Change to achieve the target set in the new policy.


Overall objective of the project is to strengthen policy narrative, commitment for the improved investment and recovery packages to make transition towards renewable energy and climate resilience in Pakistan

Through exploratory research and policy outreach activities, SDPI aims to achieve following objectives:

  • Identifying potential and barriers to green recovery in Pakistan
  • Devising policy recommendations for key sectors including energy, transport, and industry
  • Sensitizing the stakeholders such as executives and legislatures, media, private sector, etc. on indebtedness challenges and potential to move towards green sectors
  • Building stakeholders coordination and engagement mechanism to take forward collective efforts for clean and green energy agenda in national discourse


The major outputs envisaged for the project include:

  1. Research reports focusing on analysis of the impact of the health and economic crisis for future growth trajectories and energy sector consumption and growth for Pakistan including:
    • Analysis of current levels of indebtedness to multilateral and bilateral actors and implications for future growth and development and identify avenues for swapping debt with investment in green sectors.
    • Analysis of stabilisation/stimulus packages already announced by government and/or donors and their impacts on furthering or slowing the energy transition including analysis of bailouts and handouts to the fossil fuel industry.
    • Formulation of real economy recommendations for stimulus and investment in key sectors impacting climate such as transport, energy, and industry which should include clear recommendations for recovery packages that will stimulate growth, jobs and investment while building in climate resilience and helping to transition economies away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.
  2. Based on the evidence created the following meetings will be conducted in the period of the project:
  • 4 Quarterly Roundtable Meetings
  • 6 Meetings with Think Tanks
  • 4 Meetings with media
  • 4 Meetings with Finance and Energy Experts
  • 3 Green Parliamentarian Caucus meetings
  • 4 Talk Shows


COVID-19 and the future of energy in the Asia- Pacific

Donor: ESCAP

Duration: August – December, 2020

SDPI has started this project with the help of ESCAP. SDPI will prepare the report “COVID-19 and the future of energy in the Asia- Pacific – threats and opportunities”. The purpose of this study will be to seek to decipher impacts of COVID on the energy sector in the Asia-Pacific region and identify policy responses by member States and other stakeholders to the pandemic to align with the energy sector transformation. Unless otherwise amended by the Parties, the report will have the following points like Immediate impacts of pandemic and energy, behavior change and enabling technology, implications of oil and gas price shock, green stimulus and policy options.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • To explore the impact on energy demand in the post-COVID-19 period.
  • To help to structure thinking around the future of the Asia-Pacific energy sector for further developing strategies.
  • Actions to be taken by the governments to counter the challenges and long term impact of COVID-19.
  • To provide essential context on the issue for policymakers and other energy stakeholders, together with some recommendations.
  • Seek to decipher impacts of COVID-19 on the energy sector, and recast policy responses to the pandemic to align with the energy sector transformation.
  • To identify risks, opportunities and learnings from leading examples to guide policymakers and program designers and highlight opportunities where regional cooperation can support the goals of economic recovery and energy sector transformation.

Impacts to the energy system emerging from COVID-19.

  • Impact on the renewable energy supply chain and the COVID-driven downturn in energy demand is presenting unforeseen risks to energy markets.
  • Green stimulus packages can provide an opportunity to drive renewables and energy efficiency and reduce reliance on high-emissions energy sources.
  • Lockdowns have lowered energy consumption.
  • Historic low oil and gas prices may compete with renewables and energy efficiency.
  • Low oil and gas prices may also drive fuel switching in the electricity sector away from coal and towards gas fired generation enabling more flexible grids and easing the integration of renewable energy.
  • The pandemic has highlighted the essential nature of the electricity system which is now widely recognized as being critical for hospitals and other healthcare services, teleworking and remote learning.


  • Enhancing resilience towards future crises.
  • Making best use of recovery stimulus funds and leveraging energy security concerns to “build back better”.
  • Locking in behavior changes and attitude shifts to reap ongoing benefits from lockdown.
  • Taking advantage of low oil and gas prices to unwind fossil fuel subsidies and accelerate the energy transition.
  • Highlighting opportunities for regional cooperation.

Status: Ongoing

Energy Reforms in Pakistan

Partner: DFID

Year: 2013

Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi, Fareeha mehmood, Ayesha Wasti, Zohra Fatima, Maha Kamal


SDPI organized dialogue between policy makers, technical experts, and  implementing agencies in public sector on key reform areas (energy and tax) in collaboration with Ukaid’s Department For International Development (DFID). The dialogue was supported by structured feedback from citizen and business communities to provide a clear perspective on the level of receptiveness and support to broad reforms in tax and energy sectors. This research particularly formed the baseline for activities under the ‘poverty and growth project’, that is currently in the design phase. In pursuance of this dialogue, a discussion paper covering all the aspects of key reforms in energy sector was synthesized.

The paper discussed the following, history of energy reforms in Pakistan (sub-sector wise in oil, gas, coal, power ), supply and demand side issues currently faced by Pakistan in sub-sectors of energy, structure of energy consumption in Pakistan and expected future supply, financial management in energy sector (pricing, subsidies, circular debt issue ), institutional structure of energy sector supply chain (generation, transmission, role of WAPDA/PEPCO, federal ministries, provincial energy departments, public sector corporations ), current critical issues faced by Pakistan in energy sector (federal and provincial level), interprovincial issues in energy management.


  • To synthesize existing information available
  • To captured the on-going debate, and highlight the questions discussed in the policy symposium organized for the new government


  • Writing of the paper is underway

Energy Governance in Pakistan

Donors/Partners: Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS)
Locale: Islamabad
Duration of Project: May-August 2015
Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi, Maha Kamal, Maariyah wasim, Omama Tahir,M. Sawar.


The project aims to evaluate structural and institutional reform strategies in Pakistan’s energy sector.  Given the country’s vulnerability to climate change, the overarching objective of this project is to sensitize policy makers to the values of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and the need for energy security with High Efficiency and Low Emissions (HELE). The project is data-intensive with qualitative and quantitative analysis of key areas in the energy sector.



Under the project, a data-driven energy policy is being devised for the key ministries, including Ministry of Water & Power, and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.  Similarly, an independent assessment of the ministries’ performance against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is underway.Major objectives of this project are:
  • To sensitize policy makers to Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and help develop an energy policy in the backdrop of current scenario of climate change
  • To identify and develop KPIs for the  ministries so that they could improve energy governance
  • To measure  energy governance against KPIs
  • To collect measurable data on a set of indicators that will include power transmission and distribution loss rate
  • To conduct spatial analysis of distribution losses across Pakistan
  • To analyze and identify gaps in inter-departmental coordination, which affect energy governance
  • To share results and key policy recommendations on energy governance with policy makers and industry’s experts

Pakistan Power Sector Outlook: Appraisal of KESC in Post Privatization Period

Duration: September 2011 to July 2012

Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi, Fareeha mehmood


The present energy crisis in Pakistan is worsening day by day due to increased reliance on costly oil imports, lack of proactive approach and ignorance about sustainable options in energy corridors of the country. High dependency on fossil fuel for electricity generation has drained the national exchequer and mounting import bill continues to exert pressure on the trade deficit and the foreign exchange reserves. The economic growth has suffered a serious setback coupled with substantial decrease in GDP, unemployment and civil distress hovering over the nation’s security like a disaster.

In purview of this burgeoning energy crisis and the need to revisit the policies and institutional framework, SDPI has recently launched a report titled “Pakistan Power Outlook: Appraisal of KESC in Post Privatization Period”. The report, while discussing KESC as a case study, not only analyzed the energy crisis but also gave solutions to the issue. It is worth mentioning that the report has been reviewed and endorsed by the top universities and academicians.


The main objective of the study is to find the root cause and underlying factors behind the ongoing energy crisis and present solid, doable and practical solutions to the government so that the crisis could be overcome in a shortest possible time.


The study narrates the history of KESC from its nationalization in 1952 to the arrival of Abraaj Capital in 2008. The performance of KESC in generation, transmission and distribution since 1947 to date has been compared with PEPCO, IPPs as well as international power plants to draw the attention of policy makers and the government for an immediate action to increase fuel efficiency, minimize auxiliary consumption and reduce transmission and distribution losses. The statistics in the report depict a deteriorating image of the company in terms of transmission and distribution losses and consequently the financial health of the company.

Moreover, the untargeted subsidy allocation towards KESC, exacerbating the intricacies, has also been discussed in detail.

The findings and recommendations of the report are equally applicable to all thermal power plants of the country, which are generating 70% of the electricity within the country.  The findings suggest that enhancement in fuel efficiency (generation per unit of fuel) would not only help generate more electricity from the available fuel (increased supply of electricity), but also reduce prices of electricity by bringing down the cost of generation (at cheaper rate). At the same time, fuel efficiency would result in saving the scarce fiscal resources the government spends on subsidizing the power sector.

In addition to the improvement in fuel efficiency the report also drew the attention towards the immense hydro power potential available in Pakistan but only 10% of indentified potential of 60,312MW has so far been utilized.

Thar Coal: Myths and Realities

Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi


Keeping in view the need for revisiting energy policies and highlighting the realities of Thar Coal Project, SDPI released a comprehensive report titled “Thar Coal: Myths and Realities, A revisit on NEPRA’s role in encouraging coal exploitation in Pakistan”.

The Sindh Arid Zone Development Authority (SAZDA) and the British Overseas Development Agency discovered the Thar Coal reserves in 1992. Thar Coal is generally of Lignite form, and it is credited as of a low-ranking coal type, which lies between coal and peat. The energy content of the lignite coal is 5,774 Btu/lb, moisture content is 46.77 per cent, ash content is 6.24per cent and sulphur content is 1.16 per cent. Due to its low energy density, Thar lignite is economically least beneficial for nation. The method involves converting coal into a combustible gas, which can be used for industrial heating, power generation or the manufacture of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or diesel fuel. Coal used to produce gas would be a better alternative to it being used directly for electricity generation. Given the severity of the current gas crisis, coal could be better for this purpose.


The findings of the report suggest that NEPRA needs to benchmark its performance against the Indian Act of Electricity, which was promulgated in 2003. Provisions in the Indian Electricity Act 2003, specifically Section 86(1) (e), stress on the promotion of environmentally friendly benign policies, which promote cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy. The solution of energy crisis in Pakistan lies in cheap and green hydropower. Therefore, in order to ease Pakistan’s energy crisis, the immediate and long-term solution entails starting multi-purpose hydropower projects. These would help overcome the challenge of sustaining a positive economic growth, which is direly needed at the moment but also enable the water and energy sectors for further development.

The report initiated a debate on technical and financial viability of this project in media. The report, highlighting the facts and environmental costs associated with this project compelled the stakeholders to revisit the energy policy. The findings of the reports were endorsed in the technical review of this project done by Planning Commission of Pakistan upon the release of this report. The report was not only opted by USAID, NUST and Engineering University Peshawar but also endorsed by the Planning Commission of Pakistan.

Feasibility of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project for Pakistan

Duration: May 2013 to December2013

Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi, Fareeha mehmood, Zohra Fatima, Maha Kamal


Iran-Pakistan gas Pipeline has the potential to resolve Pakistan’s current energy crisis. However, there are many issues that need special attention, including agreed price of exported Iranian gas, financial considerations regarding the pipeline construction and the possible future implications of the agreement for Pakistan’s economy. The study aims to suggest feasible energy alternatives for the Iranian gas and outlines the procedure for their productive exploitation. The preliminary findings of the report and policy recommendations were disseminated  through a seminar followed by a press conference.

The study established that Pakistan negotiated a flawed deal with Iran. There were solid arguments, using which Pakistan can negotiate gas price with Iran.


  • To assess the economic viability of Iranian gas for Pakistan and suggest practical and doable alternatives

Electricity Governance

Partner: USAID- SARI Energy

Year: 2010-11

Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abbasi


Pakistan is facing a huge electricity shortage and a sharp rise in electricity prices causing social unrest in some of its urban & rural areas. This has had a negative effect on industrial productivity and a commensurate decline in economic growth. There have been severe monetary repercussions owing to electricity shortage in the industrial and export sectors, which according to estimates by the Ministry of Water and Power (MOWP), have experienced losses at Rs 219 billion and Rs 75 billion respectively. Additionally, there has been a drastic decrease in 400,000 jobs in 2009. The state of Pakistan’s electricity sector can be attributed mainly to a high dependence on fossils fuels, high domestic & industrial demand and high transmission losses. Furthermore, in terms of governance, an absence of transparency and incompetence of the managers are problems endemic in the system that regulates provision of electricity in the country. The supply demand gap has been widened by 35% due to seasonal availability in hydropower and in 2009-10, the overall electricity consumption declined by 1.7%. The industrial sector has been particularly hard hit by the electricity shortage and there has been a substantial reduction in industrial productivity, which has had daunting impacts on the country’s exports and eventually leads to the deterioration of balance of payments

Electricity governance in Pakistan has to be consolidated by supporting a more transparent electricity power regulatory process. Therefore, the roles of the Ministry of Water and Power (MOWP) and Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) must also be scrutinized. It is intended stakeholders from different backgrounds can be brought together, so as to develop a common understanding about exploiting the potential of best practices and highlighting flaws in governance pertaining to the electricity sector.

In order to strengthen the electricity regulatory processes in Pakistan, SDPI in a joint initiative with US AID- SARI Energy, undertook the project of Electricity Governance in Pakistan. The study has emerged at a time when power outages together with high electricity costs, have arguably become a greater socio-economic menace than terrorism for Pakistan. The project focuses on the National Electric Power Regulation Authority, which is responsible for regulating power in Pakistan. The study aims to undertake a comprehensive in-depth analysis and discuss recommendations for interventions to improve Pakistan’s electricity sector. The power sector was liberalized in the mid 1990s, whereby a number of private entities gained access to the sector boosting competitiveness. Governance, however, has been exclusive of public interest due to the sector’s entrenched complexity. It is necessary for the public to understand the issues and to become involved in decision-making processes. The study will also help to create a strong collaboration between civil society, policymakers, regulators and other concerned parties on a common platform, whereby good governance and sound decision making processes are encouraged at the policy level. The long-term goal of the policy is the continuous provision of electricity to consumers, industry, farmers and customers at cheap rates.

The methodology adopted for the study leads to an analysis and a sound assessment of the situation, which is being reflected in the project report. The preparation of the report entails widespread consultation with the stakeholders, whereby its structure is being sufficiently delineated, identifying gaps and opportunities to improve governance. The nature of Pakistan’s electricity sector is unique so there shall be an adoption of research indicators pertaining to the World Resources Institute and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy India. However, other country specific methodologies are being applied to undertake evaluation of the processes of electricity governance in Pakistan. It is believed that the research undertaken can help establish a new paradigm for measurable performance indicators for Pakistan’s electricity/energy sectors. Finally, a strategy is proposed to harness cheap hydroelectricity and other renewable energy generation options, which are imperative for a sustainable regional and global environment. Civil society, media and consumers are encouraged to understand and influence decision making in the electricity sector.