PAkistan recently experienced one of the worst monsoons in its history, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, causing flash floods in all provinces.
The impacts of climate change are visible in the historic heatwaves that have swept across Europe and Britain which has never had to deal with such high temperatures and is ill-equipped to deal with them both in terms of infrastructure than cultural practices.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) 2022 report on the status of the SDGs and a possible future roadmap indicates that the global average for the SDG Index is stagnating at 66, making it the second year in a row that the world has failed to make progress on the SDGs.
In fact, the average SDG Index score declined slightly in 2021, which may be partly explained by a problematically slow, if not outright non-existent, recovery in particularly marginalized and vulnerable regions of the world, that’s to say, low- and middle-income countries and countries disproportionately vulnerable to climate change. Pakistan falls into both categories. It ranks 125 out of 163 on the SDG index with a score of 59.3 against a regional average of 65.9.
Food security seems to be affected by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict which has had an impact on world commodity prices. For Pakistan, this has weighed on an already struggling economy with rising fuel and commodity prices combined with growing political uncertainty.
It is easy to see that these crises and pressures have diverted much-needed political attention and priorities away from medium- and long-term goals, such as achieving the SDGs and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and, of course, sure, nationally determined initiative. Contributions (NDC) to the reduction of carbon emissions.
Pakistan submitted its revised NDCs on the eve of COP26 held in Glasgow in November 2021 with ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions by 50% until 2030 – 15% from the country’s resources and 35% based on international climate finance support.
However, Pakistan is not alone in this regard. Much of the world’s attention is similarly diverted and the SDSN report calls for a global return to focus on these issues, as the SDGs are not just paper commitments, but humanitarian and development goals. in real time that focus on social inclusion, clean energy, responsible consumption and production. and universal access to public services; all of which are more than ever necessary to respond to the great challenges of our time, including security crises, pandemics and the omnipresent specter of climate change.
Pakistan adopted the SDGs as its official development agenda through a joint resolution of parliament in 2016 and has set up SDG units at the federal and provincial levels. The country selected 193 indicators out of 247 for national reporting, leaving 54 due to either unavailability of data or irrelevance to Pakistan.
Currently, the country reports 133 priority indicators. In 2018, the government developed the National SDG Framework which prioritizes and localizes the 17 SDGs. Government ministries and departments, as well as NGOs were asked to prioritize the SDGs in their programming and report on their achievements in the SDG format.
Pakistan classifies the 17 SDGs into three categories; Category 1 goals require immediate attention to achieve rapid results and help accelerate the achievement of Category 2 and 3 goals. Category 1 includes: SDG 2 (No hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well- be), SDG 4 (Quality education), SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions).
Category 2 includes SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities), SDG 11 ( Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). Category 3 includes SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (Climate action), SDG 14 (Life below sea) and SDG 15 (Life on land).
In a recent discussion, the Director of Climate Change agreed that while the SDGs are a great guideline for achieving sustainable development, we need to act and prepare beyond 2030. This can only be accomplished by realigning our political priorities towards achieving the current SDG targets and planning beyond 2030.
He seems to be right in terms of futuristic thinking, but policy makers should bear in mind that Pakistan is lagging behind on most SDG targets and indicators due to resource constraints, targeted policy deficit and implementation. implementation of the SDGs as country-specific targets. In addition, there is a need to align development work with SDG targets and indicators.
Data collection and monitoring is a major gap in Pakistan’s progress on the SDGs. No less than 3% of data seem to be missing because they are not declared or do not exist. The Covid-19 pandemic and killer monsoons have shown that we can no longer rely solely on traditional methods of data collection and monitoring.
We must use technology, data systems and innovative methods to ensure the availability of timely and high quality data to monitor the impacts of any situation or crisis in real time and inform policy intervention at international and national levels. Significant investment in data science, research and development, and capacity building of the current and future workforce for data collection and analysis is needed.
All is not catastrophic. Pakistan’s overall progress on the SDG Index score increased from 52.95 in 2015 to 63.10 in 2020, that’s to say, 19.2 percent against the 2015 baseline. The country has made significant progress, 28.2 percent against the baseline in the short-term goals which include Goal-2: Zero Hunger , Goal-3: good health and well-being, Goal-4: quality education and Goal 16: peace, justice and strong institutions. Despite everything, making progress on two short-term objectives, that’s to sayGoal-7: Affordable and Clean Energy and Goal-8: Decent Work and Economic Growth remain unsatisfactory.
Besides prioritizing policies at higher levels, another avenue for progress that Pakistan can use is its often underutilized youth. Mobilizing and developing the capacity of young people on climate action and sustainable consumption and production and achieving sustainability can be a viable strategic intervention.
Well-informed young people can lead a debate on climate action and sustainability in line with relevant SDGs among communities and stakeholders and on social media platforms. They can promote sustainable consumption and production in all spheres of life. This is a prominent issue in the debate on achieving the SDGs for climate action and sustainability.
As peer mobilizers, young people can motivate other young people to play their part in local conservation actions with the aim of reducing the impacts of climate change, especially flooding. Achieving the SDGs can be an excellent starting point towards resilient and sustainable development
The author holds an MA in International Development from the UK. He works as an associate researcher in the resilient development program, SDPI. He can be reached at [email protected]