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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.

Rural Development.

Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M)

Partner: FAO, ICIMOD

Year: 2008


Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has initiated the project Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (SARD-M) to investigate the state of agriculture and its role in sustainable development in mountainous areas. The project also studies the policy environment and rules and regulations relating to mountainous agriculture and high value crops. SDPI carried out a study of “NWFP Agriculture Policy 2005” SDPI did the SWOT analysis of Agriculture Policy and also prepared guidelines for better development, coordination and implementation of policy. The study also looked into how coherence among different stakeholders can be improved to attain the perceived objectives of sustainable development. Recommendations were proposed in practical approaches and tools or better interagency coordination in the design and implementation of SARD-M interventions. The final findings were shared in a regional meeting that was held at ICIMOD secretariat in Kathmandu in August 2008.


There should be a defined time line for implementation of policy; the role of each department should be clearly defined and department should be made responsible to meet targets and mandate; policy should also lay down the process, how all stakeholders would be involved in the decision making process; there should be a special program for inclusion of women in decision making; policy should also give some attention to off-season introduction of vegetables; there is need for focused interventions for improvement of research institutes and departments; budget allocation to achieve the objectives of policy should be enhanced and clearly define.

Rural to Urban Transition and the Peri-urban Interface: Identifying, Mapping and Understanding Peri-urban Areas in India and Pakistan

Partner: East West center(Honolulu, Hawaii)

Duration: November 2011 to November 2013

Locale: Lahore


With the growth of megacities across the Asian region has come the expansion of peri-urban areas and transition zones where urban and rural activities are juxtaposed and landscape features are subject to rapid modifications induced by human activities. Peri-urban areas occupy a large portion of national landscape and are home to hundreds of millions of people. They face unique problems, including intense pressures on resources, slum formation, lack of adequate services such as water and sanitation, poor planning, and degradation of farmland. These areas also face demands from users with contrasting lifestyles and conflicting interests. These demands range from agriculture to residential, industrial to commercial and the development of green belts to natural reserves. The management of peri-urban areas is often neglected by both rural and urban administrations because they are located beyond administrative boundaries of cities in zones that are generally not identified as specific entities of planning.

The subject of peri-urbanization needs immediate research. SDPI is working in collaboration with South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (Hyderabad, India) and East-West Center (Honolulu, Hawaii) to study governance issues in peri-urban areas and what consequences peri-urbanization causes to environment and health. The area chosen for the study in Pakistan was Lahore while, in India, it was Hyderabad.


  • To refine and expand a multi-faceted set of activities, including capacity building of community
  • To collect and analyze data on the relative rural and urban nature of  communities under investigation
  • To explore problems and governance issues in select areas, and
  • To develop a community of diverse researchers (young and senior, male and female) in the two countries to work collaboratively to integrate and analyze information and data showing the relative degree of rural, urban and peri-urban characteristics of select study areas.


  • An inception workshop was held in Islamabad 2011, to chalk out the methodology and work plan for the project.Participants of this workshop included scholars, professionals experts from India, Pakistan and East West Center along with young students
  • The National Status Report has been finalized.
  • A detailed analysis of secondary data was carried out to produce a study ‘Quantification of Urbancity’. This study examines various parts of Lahore to determine whether the vicinity is rural, urban or peri- urban.
  • A survey with a sample size of 270 households was conducted at 9 different locations of Lahore to produce a third report which holds a cross country analysis within the themes of water, governance and food security to determine characteristics of peri urbanization.
  • An inhouse seminar was held to disseminate the findings of National status report.

    1. Talk show on Peri-Urban Webinar
    2. Management of Peri-urban areas neglected by both rural and urban administrations
    3. Concept Note
  • A cross-border dialogue on peri-urbanization trends in India & Pakistan was held through video conferencing. Students and young researchers participated and presented in the event.
  • Pakistan and Indian teams mutually analyzed the data collected from both the countries. A dissemination workshop was held in Hyderabad, India, in which policy makers, media representatives and experts from both the countries participated.


  • Peri-urban areas in Pakistan are characterized by their poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and a severe lack of infrastructural and institutional facilities. In both countries, particular characteristics specific to peri-urban areas can be chalked out to create an index of urbanicity.


  • Keeping in mind the requirements and problems of peri-urban areas, which are different from urban and rural areas, the policy makers and city planners should take them separately. As the dynamics of peri-urban areas is changing constantly and growing rapidly, therefore, they should be given attention on immediate basis.

Migration and Development

Partner: NCCR North-South, Switzerland; Zurich University, Switzerland

Year: 2012

Locale:  Gujrat, Jhelum, Mandi Bahauddin and Faisalabad districts


The study focuses on the role of return migrants knowledge and skill in socio-economic development—challenges and options in Pakistan. The field visits of Gujrat, Jhelum, Mandi Bahauddin and Faisalabad districts as well as surrounding areas have been carried out. These districts were chosen because a large number of people have gone abroad (Europe and North America) as migrants and these districts are major centres of small, medium and large-scale industries. We used qualitative methods of social research (key-informant interviews and personal observations). Those respondents (or households) were selected who have returned from abroad and now engaged in some sort of business or other employment, or those emigrants who were planning to invest their skills in their hometown.


  • To provide a better and more differentiated understanding of the role of knowledge and skills in the migration process in particular for a migrant’s personal and household’s advancement, and to explore challenges faced by the migrants in this regards.
  • To allow a critical reading of the “migration and development” debate, where migrants are seen as potential agents of development.
  • To contribute through research towards best practices to make use of the knowledge and skills of migrants and migrant’s networks for development purposes

Contested Rural Development – ‘New Perspectives on Non-state Actors and Movements’ and the Politics of Livelihood-Centered Policies

Partners: NCCR North-South, Switzerland; Zurich University, Switzerland; University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (Pakistan)

Duration: 2011 to 2013

Locale: Abbottabad and Mansehra

Team Member: Dr Babur Shahbaz


The study focuses on rural development programmes and strategies being launched by public or private agencies. The main focus of these programmes is to improve the living standard of rural masses thereby reducing social exclusion through sustained growth in the rural economy. The study was conducted in Abbottabad and Mansehra of KP which are rich in natural resources but it is least developed. The poverty situation in the region particularly in the mountainous region is relatively serious. Like other provinces, state departments as well as many non-governmental organizations and culturally-rooted social groups (including religious groups) are working to improve the livelihoods of rural vulnerable communities of the region. They claim that they are in a better position to cater to the needs of people and deliver welfare services to the marginalized and vulnerable communities of the province.


  • To identify and analyse the visions and practices of culturally-rooted social movements towards rural development in the Northwest Pakistan.
  • To critically analyse the philosophical foundations (believes, claims, visions, actions) and actual practices regarding rural development of culturally-rooted organizations (including religious) which claim to be deeply rooted in the rural society of KP.
  • To examine, compare and contrast the working strategies of these organizations with those of the state-led- rural development departments.
  • To find out the implications of rural development endeavors of both systems on agricultural research, extension and education triangle in general and farmers livelihoods in particular.


  • Primary data collection
  • Preparation of draft report/Ph D. and M.Phil thesis.
  • Presentation of research work at local, national and international level.
  • A joint book publication with research partners.


  • Initial results reveal that locally-rooted non state institutions / social organizations, which relate to rural development, are the key players in addressing the issues of poverty and inequality. These organizations can be broadly classified into three categories. Both rural and urban areas are the operational areas of majority of these organizations and mostly these organizations rely on volunteers. In most of the cases at district and provincial level, these organizations have linkages and networking with the organizations working on different issues e.g. poverty, inequality, child rights, women rights, rights of forest users and owners, rights of growers, landless labourers etc. These linkages and interactions are also helpful in raising voice of community on the platform of a social movement leading to rural development practices. The culturally-rooted organizations should be streamlined in the rural development process.

Contested Rural Development

Partner: The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South & Zurich University, Switzerland.
Year: 2008-09
Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Babur Shahbaz


The programme revolves around rural poverty and inequality which persist across South Asia and beyond, despite the effects of “the market” and myriad development efforts by state departments, donors, and parts of civil society. Several studies by NCCR North-South researchers have confirmed this. At the same time, various heterogeneous “non-state actors and social movements” have arisen that challenge and even resist state-run – mostly “neo-liberal” – development agendas in the region (e.g. peasant and farmers movements; workers movements; caste or religion-based movements; etc.). These actors and movements claim to rightfully represent people’s desire to improve their lives, and adopt approaches ranging from non-violent protest to militancy.


The research explores answer to the following question “Do non-state actors and social movements have the answers to rural poverty and inequality?” The study further investigates the contrast between the stated visions and the on ground practices of non-state actors and social movements with regard to the prevailing acute poverty and inequality in the rural context.


The study primarily uses qualitative tools for interviews. Following are some of the common reasons that were highlighted by the respondents for the emergence of social movements.

  • Inefficiency of the state in providing basic services and human rights
  • Protection of religious and ethnic culture in the region
  • Bringing change in the marketing mechanism/ policy of agriculture produce
  • Gender discrimination
  • Unequal and unjustified distribution/allocation of resources within the province

The organizations/groups or social movements working in the study area can be broadly categorized into the following typology viz. rural development/human rights, cultural identity and religious identity. An inventory of local organizations and movements was prepared and in-depth interviews were conducted from the staff and stakeholders of the selected organizations.