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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.

Livelihood Futures.

Air Pollution

Air pollution has become major challenge when it comes to citizen’s health. According to World Health Organization (WHO) outdoor (ambient) air pollution causes 4.2 million pre-mature deaths annually whereas 3.8 million deaths are caused due to indoor air pollution. As per estimates 91% people breathe air which exceeds WHO’s permissible limit. South Asians countries are also vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution. Countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Saudi Arabia face highest death toll due to bad air quality and this mainly include children under age of five years. Air pollution also causes heart stroke, respiratory illness, eye irritation and lungs problem in growing children, women and people of older age. According to New Delhi based surgeon air pollution is causing cancers in young females of less than 40 age.
Smog is also affecting developing countries badly. It is impacting economy, education of students as school and colleges remain close, causes accidents due to visibility issues and impacts air operations (delayed flights)
According to Punjab Smog commission, smog is caused by vehicular emissions (80%), brick kilns (20%) and other sources include industrial emissions
Pakistan is not alone for devastating impacts of bad air quality. Since air pollution is cross boundary issue therefore developing countries should collectively device a plan to tackle this issue together.

  1. Preventing NCD deaths through better air quality. Draft v 3, 11.6.2018, World Health Organization.
  2. Deaths from Air pollution Worldwide. 2018. State of Global Air
  3. Safi M. 2017. ‘Half my lung cancer patients are non-smokers’: toxic air crisis chokes Delhi. The Guardians.
  4. Shabbir M. 2018. Smog: A transboundary issue and its implications in India and Pakistan. Policy brief number 67.

Technical review of the GoP’s draft Disaster Response Action Plan for cash transfers

Partner: DFID

Year: 2012

Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum suleri


Cash transfers are increasingly being seen as a part of the toolbox for emergency response and early recovery and can be complementary as well as an alternative to in-kind assistance. Cash based responses are a mechanism or tool for providing people with resources in emergencies that can be considered across all sectors. Cash can be particularly appropriate to help support, protect and rebuild livelihoods.

In the wake of recent disasters in Pakistan and considering the importance of cash transfers in rebuilding of livelihoods in disaster-hit areas, SDPI furthered its policy research and undertook the review of the GoP’s draft disaster response action plan in collaboration with the  Humanitarian Outcomes and DFID. Following activities were undertaken as part of the project.

  • Desk review of international best practice in cash-transfer systems for disaster response
  • Consultations and interviews, with the wider GoP disaster response
  • Workshops with both provincial and federal stakeholders engaged in disaster response
  • Review of the GoP’s draft disaster response action plan
  • Re-drafted revised action plan together with GoP and World Bank

Lessons for Pakistan that emerge from international best practice and that were incorporated in this review suggest that providing people with money can be an effective and appropriate response in a wide variety of contexts. The basic criteria for cash transfers to be appropriate are that markets are functioning so that people can buy what they need locally and that cash can be delivered safely. Evaluations have found that it is possible to target and distribute cash safely and people spend money sensibly on basic essentials and rebuilding livelihoods. Cash transfers can provide a stimulus to local economies and have in some contexts been more cost-effective than commodity-based alternatives. Cash transfer also need to be coordinated with long-term GoP social protection and social assistance schemes. Poorer households that qualify and need long-term support may be linked to such programmes.

Production of Soccer Balls by Nike in Pakistan

Year: 2008


Renowned multinational companies (MNCs) are sometimes not well versed with ground socio economic realities when operating in underdeveloped countries. SDPI carried out research study to determine whether developing societies benefit from “one size fit all” social ethics of MNC’s.

SDPI focused on Nikes production of soccer balls in Pakistan. Pakistan’s soccer ball industry is vibrant. SDPI wanted to find out how far Nike kept up with its Corporate Social Responsibility in Pakistan as manifested in its company documents. The study brought some vital facts to light. The small scale manufacturers supplying to Nike were pioneers in producing good quality soccer balls. However, these manufacturers did not meet minimum wage requirements. Gender discrimination was also prevalent. In 2006, there were allegations on Nike of child labor and unauthorized out-sourcing to home based workers. As a result, Nike withdrew its contract from its main supplier of soccer balls in Pakistan. Ironically, the victim of this act was the most vulnerable part of the society – the rural population, the informal work force, and female workers. This situation raised many questions. It reiterated the established fact that every situation is unique. Economic opportunities and ethical and social responsibilities in one society could be different from another. The affected workforce in this case was left without income generating opportunities. Economic options in an underdeveloped country are limited. This important socio economic fact was also brought to light at the European Social Investment Conference on “Closing the Information Gap” in Germany.

Livelihood Futures in Resource-Scarce Areas – and the Quest for the Inclusion of Marginal Groups

Partner: The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South & Zurich University, Switzerland, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad Pakistan.

Duration: 2009 to 2013

Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Babur Shahbaz

The debates surrounding the complexity, diversity and dynamics of livelihood patterns in marginal areas demonstrate the linkage between scarcity of natural resource and livelihoods insecurity. In resource-poor areas different social groups strive to access and command over these remaining resources, but also on the (often few) enabling (alternative – e.g. non natural resource – based) opportunities to secure their livelihoods. In this struggle some social groups take benefit while some cannot, and consequently conflicts, social tensions and new exclusions might emerge. This research project is being undertaken in marginal regions of Pakistan.


  • To examine the livelihood patterns, state of food security and natural resources in the study regions.
  • To identify and examine livelihood alternative options, support structures and access of people to these options.
  • To look into the future; linking this research with the climate-change scenarios and debates.


  • Analysis and comparison of results from first phase of research and writing-up of papers for peer reviewed journals have been completed. A journal, and a book have been published.
  • Household surveys were conducted in Battagram and Mansehra districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
  • Two students have completed their M.Sc (Hons.) degree; while two M.Sc (Hons.) and one PhD studies are under progress.
  • Workshop/meeting of involved researchers was held in Tanzania.
  • Publications of a report on the field finding.

The research conducted in North-Western mountainous region of Pakistan indicate that hike in prices of food items was one of the most serious threats to the food security of local residents. The expenditure on food is the largest chunk of the household budget. The leading coping strategies included eating cheap/less nutritious food, less expenditures on education & health, cut the size of food, borrowing money/food. Lack of irrigation water, limited market access, climate extremes and high cost of fertilizers were the major production related constraints for small farmers in the study area. As a resort to these constraints and due to low output from the food crops, a shift from subsistence to cash-oriented crops (vegetables) was observed. Though different types SSNs – formal as well as informal – are available in the food insecure areas of Northwest Pakistan, access to most of the SSNs depends on political and/or social capital.

Coordinators: Dr. Ulrike Mueller-Boeker (Zurich University, Switzerland) & Dr. Sagar R. Sharma (Kathmandu University, Nepal)

The Role of International Migration

Partner: ODI / SLRC

Duration: 2013

Locale: Select Union Councils of Lower Dir and Swat districts


This study focuses on  international migration as a livelihood activity from a household perspective. Migrant households has been compared to non-migrant households in order to understand who migrates and who is unable to do so in conflict-affected situations, and to understand the opportunities and barriers to international migration in the sample areas.

It is a mixed method study and combines econometric analysis of the baseline survey with qualitative fieldwork and analysis of secondary source with the econometric analysis.

In exploring migration as a livelihood strategy, particular emphasis has been given on the question of which social-economic groups and members within a household have access to migration and which are excluded and the reasons for their exclusion.


  • To consider the role of migration as a livelihood strategy
  • To provide an initial exploration of links between migration and legitimacy of government.


  • Primary data collection
  • Partners are analyzing the quantitative survey data carried out in October 2012 under the SLRC mainstream research programme.
  • Qualitative data collection started in October with the households, who have reported a member migrated outside for work.