Tags: Asia and the Pacific
While Pakistan struggled to meet the MDGs, due in part to a lack of awareness and ownership early on in the process, the SDG era is being met with early political commitment and national ownership.
Already by February 2016 the National Assembly of Pakistan had passed a unanimous resolution to adopt the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs as the national development agenda. The Speaker of the National Assembly constituted Parliamentary Task Forces at federal and provincial levels to oversee and support legislation for the SDGs and assigned the SDG Secretariat to provide support.
Additionally, the federal government and four provincial governments have already committed US$15.5 million as co-financing to set up SDG Support Units, which aim to coordinate activities at both national and provincial levels. The governments will finance 50 percent of the total project budget of around US$35 million, which will be used for four main outputs: (i) mainstreaming the SDGs in national policies and plans; (ii) data and reporting; (iii) inclusive budgeting processes and tracking expenditure; and (iv) innovation.
Institutional coordination and coherence
During the MDG era, there were no institutional structures in place to coordinate planning and provide policy coherence. This time, the government has established SDG Support Units at federal and provincial levels with UN assistance, and has created the SDG Secretariat within the parliament. At the provinciallevel specifically, the government has begun the process of integrating the SDGs, including establishing approaches for the analysis of Annual Development Plans to help identify gaps in progress and financial allocations.
Raising public awareness
The launch of the SDGs in Pakistan in October 2015 was marked in the presence of the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform and the UN Resident Coordinator. The country has a devolved governance structure which empowers provinces to plan and implement development interventions.
The importance of awareness and ownership at these levels was a key lesson learned from the MDG era. Accordingly, provincial launches and consultative workshops were held in Sindh and Punjab with a view to raising awareness of the SDGs at the subnational level. Advocacy and awareness-raising materials were developed and disseminated to government officials at national and provincial levels, civil society, UN agencies and other international partners.
At the national launch of the SDGs, the government invited non-state partners to discuss the country’s SDG roll-out plans. The Parliamentary Task Force on the SDGs also ensured the participation of development partners, including UN agencies, CSOs, think tanks and the media, in a national consultation workshop focusing on malnutrition. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, consultations to launch and prioritize the SDGs at the provincial level involved not only senior provincial officials but also CSOs, think tanks and academia.
Monitoring and reporting
Pakistan was able to produce regular data for 33 of the 60 MDG indicators, while the SDGs have 231 indicators. A preliminary exercise to assess the data gap for the SDGs shows that data are available for 125 indicators at the national level, 71 at the provincial level and 27 at the district level.
The initial assessment portrays a dismal picture of the availability of data at federal level for SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 14 (life below water), SDG 15 (life on land) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). Also, the data gaps widen as the analysis moves from the national to the district level. The findings show that data for most of the indicators for SDGs 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (reduced inequalities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land) are not available at district level. District-level data are costlier and require greater effort to collect and analyse because of the larger sample size and disaggregation required.