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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.

Trade and Environment.

Trade Promotion through Standardization in the SESA Region

Partners: SIDA & SIS

Duration: May 2013 to December 2014

Locale: Pakistan


The society aims to build national and regional knowledge to participate in ISO standard setting processes as well as to implement their standards. Today, many retailers and consumers in the world demand that products and services should be produced according to international standards.

It is believed that vital and sustainable local standardization processes with the rich involvement of private and public sector are a must to build necessary technical capacity on the concepts and methodologies of different international standards.

Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Nepal initiated a programe to build institutional capacity within SESA regions on standard setting and standard implementation. This was done with the support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The programme is now known as SESA Capacity Building Programme, and is running in eight countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. SDPI is the lead implementing partner in Pakistan.


  • To enhance economic development in the SESA region through increased to markets by local and regional producers
  • To promote stainable development of the bio-energy sector
  • To enable greenhouse gas mitigation activities within the exporting sectors
  • To strengthen standardization capacity in the SESA region


  • Data collection from Industrial sites on Carbon Footprint Standard
  • Draft and publish position papers
  • Capacity building of stakeholders, including PSQA
  • Advocacy events to disseminate research findings and policy recommendations


Revival of Agriculture in Pakistan through Organic Farming

Year: 2008

The objectives of the study were to study the environmental impacts (including soil fertility, degree of salinity and water quantity) of a public private partnership between the sugarcane growers and the local sugar mill in Punjab for organic sugarcane production. The study also aimed at assessing the challenges faced by the sugarcane growing community during diversion period from conventional to organic farming and also to learn about the economic impacts including the total production costs, costs for input, loan s to finance the cultivation, yields, profitability.

The organic sugarcane project was started on relatively poor soil. Moreover, soils in the selected sites were coarse textured and did contain negligible organic matter. After cultivating the sugarcane organically for almost 3-4 years, the soil quality was improved due to the activities of microbial inoculants. The shortage of water was overcome through interest free loans for tube well installment for growers in the selected circles by the mill. The farmers are usually indulged in the debt spiral due to rising costs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in conventional farming. On the other hand, organic agriculture is more feasible because of its reduced input cost. The study also emphasizes that the mill should offer fair premium prices to compensate for less yields, otherwise there is less likelihood to improve the growers’ livelihoods.

According to this study, organic farming in Pakistan can be a viable solution only, if input cost can be reduced either through subsidies or through public-private partnership. In addition, there is a strong need to formulate a policy on the organic farming. To meet the high transition cost, the organic farming projects can be replicated in agriculture sector with the support from government, donors, non-governmental organizations and community based organizations.

Trade Facilitation for Efficiency & Regional Integration in South Asia: The Case of Pakistan and India

Year: 2008-09

Team Members: Shakeel Ahmed

Many studies analyze Pakistan’s trade with South Asia. A common theme is the existence of a large untapped trade potential between Pakistan and its South Asian neighbours, particularly India. However, despite the indicated complementarities; trade between SAARC countries has remained low. Intra-regional trade in South Asia accounts for a mere 4 to 5 percent of the SAARC countries’ total exports worldwide (FPCCI 2003). Several studies demonstrate that reducing trade barriers and instituting various trade facilitation measures would rather increase trade than divert it. Sector based analyses also confirm the significant losses incurred by South Asian nations, in particular Pakistan, by refusing to engage in increased trade with neighboring countries (Katti, 1999). These foregone trade losses occur primarily in tea, sugar, rice, pharmaceuticals, cement, tires and passenger vehicles. A supply chain analysis of the sugar and wheat sectors by Burki et al (2006) illustrates that trade in these items between India and Pakistan could be sustainably enhanced in the absence of trade barriers.

With this changing trend in trade between the two countries trade and transport issues have drawn immense attention of policy makers, academics and industry representatives.

The trade facilitation study, which is currently underway, also examines the following impediments to trade between India and Pakistan:

  • The nature of routes and modes
  • Transport (rail, road, sea and air) and other infrastructure
  • Customs
  • Standards
  • Trade Policy
  • Business Mobility
  • Transaction Costs (Time and Money)

Trade Integration, Conflict, and Peace Building

We are involved in a two-year project on Regional Trade Integration, Violent Conflict, and Peace Building as a global coordinator. This research undertaking seeks to investigate the link between regional trading arrangements and conflict among or within states member of a particular Regional Trading Arrangement (RTA). We examine the case of SAARC, SAFTA, and SAPTA in South Asia.

This project is extremely pertinent in the context of the current impetus for peace between Pakistan and India, and South Asia as a whole. The Pakistan-India peace process is seeking to follow the trade theory model, where enhanced economic interdependence could lead to conflict mitigation. We investigate whether RTAs in South Asia could produce such positive spin-offs.

Our findings suggest an absence of any trade-conflict causality in South Asia. In other words, RTAs do not seem to have had any positive influence in reducing or subsiding conflict in South Asia. On the other hand, a reverse causality, where political tensions and conflict between states have hindered trade ties is apparent in almost every relationship.

Having taken the necessity of forming a robust regional trading block as a given, we end up with a pessimistic outlook towards trade and peace building in South Asia. Our findings suggest that lack of progress on the regional front has led South Asian countries to search for alternate bilateral, sub-regional, and extra regional alliances. India has taken the lead in these developments by forging FTAs and sub-regional groupings in South Asia.

Interestingly, Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that is not part of any sub-regional grouping. During the course of our research, it became clear to us that unless political tensions, especially between Pakistan and India subside (and this is not likely through the RTA route), the likelihood of regional integration in South Asia will remain bleak. This would imply that South Asian states would continue looking outside the region, thus de-emphasizing regionalism further. Any positive by-product through a trade-conflict causality then is unlikely to bear dividends in South Asia.

Malé Declaration: Strengthening Regional Framework on Air Pollution Reduction – The Need for a Regional Legally Binding Instrument

Partner: UNEP-ROAP

Year: 2011

Locale: South Asia

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

The Malé Declaration stated the need for countries to carry forward, or initiate, studies and programs on air pollution in the member states Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. On the request of United Nations Environment Program the regional office for Asia Pacific (UNEP-ROAP to provide technical support, a feasibility study has been conducted on the “Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its likely Trans-boundary Effects for South Asia” to discuss the socioeconomic situation of South Asia, the existing situation of air pollution in the countries and region and the responses of countries to air pollution.
In light of the analysis of gaps and weaknesses of Male declaration, socio-economic status, air pollutants levels and existing legislation, institutions and initiatives and arrangement for control, a regional legally binding instrument among Male declaration member states, for strengthening the framework for air pollution reduction, has been strongly recommended. (Feasibility study report under review process at UNEP-ROAP)

Introducing the Concept of Integrated Assessment of Trade Policies

SDPI organized the UNEP-sponsored workshop on “Introducing the Concept of Integrated Assessment of Trade Policies” from May 15-16, 2006 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The idea was to introduce the concept of integrated assessment to relevant stakeholders in Pakistan. Prior to the workshop, there was practically no awareness of the utility of integrated assessments, and certainly no capacity to conduct such assessments for trade policies. Apart from the aim of raising awareness about the integrated assessment tool, SDPI was interested in soliciting feedback and suggestions from the workshop participants on the potential for bringing the concept of integrated assessment into mainstream policymaking.

The Trade Knowledge Network

We are currently South Asian focal points for the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) led Trade Knowledge Network (TKN). As part of our responsibilities, we have managed to formulate a group of three South Asian partners who have collaborated with us on TKN research.

Foreign Investment Contracts and Sustainable Development
We are involved in a global project dealing with Foreign Investment Contracts and their concern with sustainable development. One often gets to read press reports that portray the substantial increase in FDI in the country as one of the major achievements of the present government. However, what we focus on is the little known, and much ignored aspect of what goes on behind the scenes in negotiating the investment deals and their potential impact on SD concerns.

While we are yet to embark on a detailed project, the scooping work that we conducted for Pakistan suggests that sustainable development concerns are completely ignored in the quest to attract investors at any cost. In the case of the Kirthar National Park controversy, where the government awarded an oil exploration concession to Shell-Premier, national legislation was circumvented and finally altered to allow the deal to go through. There is absolutely no transparency in either the negotiation of the FICs in Pakistan or the arbitration of disputes, which often are referred to international arbitration. In order to incorporate SD concerns, reforms must be introduced at four levels: the contract negotiation process, the terms of the contract themselves, the dispute resolution mechanism, and alignments between the policy environment in which the investment deals are sealed and sustainable development.

WTO Doha Round & South Asia: Linking Civil Society with Trade Negotiations (SAFIT, Phase 2)

Partner: CUTS International

Duration: 2005-08

Involvement of civil society in trade negotiations under WTO is necessary not only to create broader ownership of outcomes of those negotiations, but to seek advice from stakeholders on domestic preparedness around such initiatives. Governments in South Asia are criticized by civil society about lack of transparency in trade negotiations. Very often the lack of domestic preparedness is attributed to weak negotiation terms by home governments. It is in this context that SDPJ and its partner organizations in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka with the support of Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) carried out a three year policy research and advocacy on the five crucial issues in WTO negotiations: Agriculture, Non Agriculture Market Access, Trade in Services, Trade Facilitation and Development Dimensions of trade.

Liberalization of trade in services and domestic preparedness in the services sector of Pakistan was the focus of research during 2007-08. The research findings of Pakistan Case Study were published in “South Asian Positions in the WTO Doha Round: In Search of a True Development Agenda, Volume 2” by CUTS International.

It was observed through research studies that civil society (including media, trader’s community, NGOs, academia, and chambers of commerce) does not have any say in trade negotiations. This results in lack of ownership and lack of domestic preparedness.

In order to strengthen the capacity of civil society including the media and to broaden the knowledge base of academia, policy makers and researchers, two national consultative workshops were organized during the reporting period to discuss the findings of the research. A regional workshop was also held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in January 2008 for mutual learning among South Asian Project Partners. SDPI is facilitated a dialogue between economic managers among government and civil society representatives. Two in camera sessions were arranged to discuss these issues with parliamentarians of the ruling alliance.

Ministry of Commerce WTO Cell sought SDPI’s input on regulatory aspects of services sector as well as on a progress report related to services sector that is prepared by ITA and MOC under an EU funded project.