‘Call to Action’ for engaging civil society in implementation of SDGs endorsed

Myra Imran
Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Islamabad: Representatives of civil society organizations and networks, political parties, media, academia, students, vulnerable groups, and human rights defenders endorsed the Call to Action for meaningfully engaging civil society in the decade of action to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Pakistan.

The Call for Action paper was presented at an event organized by AwazCDS - Pakistan, UGOOD, and Pakistan Development Alliance Member organizations at National Press Club. The Paper will be submitted to the Planning Commission of Pakistan for further collaboration and support.

Prominent political leaders from different political parties including MNA Romina Khurshid Alam. Convener Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs, MNA Shiza Special, Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs, former Senator Farhatullah Babar, MPA Sardar Ranjit Singh from JUI, Dr Bashir Hussain from Awami Worker’s Party shared their thoughts on the Call to Action for enhanced and inclusive CSOs engagement in Implementing SDGs in Pakistan.

They stressed collaborative efforts to implement SDGs in Pakistan and termed civil society and media a major stakeholder in this process. They highlighted the importance of learning from past mistakes and creating awareness of SDGs among the stakeholders. They acknowledged the fact that the time is running out for the effective implementation of the SDGs.

In his presentation, the CEO of AwazCDS – Pakistan Zia ur Rehman discussed key developments made under SDGs at national and sub-national levels. “In continuation of collective efforts to strengthen social accountability towards the implementation and achievement of SDGs in Pakistan, we remained engaged in the preparation of Spotlight Report on Voluntary National Review (VNR in 2022) and Voluntary Local Review (VLR-2022),” he said adding that they were surprised to find out that 80 per cent of the implementors at the local level were not even aware of SDGs.

CEO UGOOD Syed Ishtiaq Gilani presented the Call to Action before the participants for endorsement. The paper appreciates various policy and structural measures taken by the government to implement SDGs and welcomed the approval of national and sub-national priority frameworks towards the implementation of SDGs besides acknowledging the fact that the government is aware of policy and structural level challenges as well as data and reporting gaps towards the achievement of SDGs.

The call expressed concern that Pakistan has yet to go long way to achieve priority SDGs commitments in due time and that the localization process of SDGs has yet to be initiated in the absence of functional local government bodies in the country. “We are deeply concerned that civic spaces are shrinking as well as democracy and human rights are at constant risk whereas religious extremism, poverty, inequalities, inflation, fuel, and electricity prices are rising day by day.”

It warns that Pakistan may fail to achieve priority SDGs in due time in the absence of enabling a policy environment for meaningful engagement of CSOs, creating rightful spaces for the inclusive participation of citizens at large, and without the appropriate allocation of resources and finances.

Besides meaningful engagement of civil society, private sector, academia, and other related stakeholders, it demanded localization of priority SDGs at the district and sub-district level, the transformation of national and sub-national priority frameworks into action strategies, and launch of reliable national data portal against all priority SDGs indicators for better governance, accountability, and reporting.

The Call to Action urged the formation of a National SDGs Council comprised of experts from all walks of life to accelerate the process of the midterm review of SDGs implementation in the country as well as to monitor the progress in the future.

The Paper stressed for allocation of ample resources and finances to achieve priority SDGs at federal and sub-national levels and the formulation of new laws and policies to ensure the smooth implementation of SDGs in letter and spirit. It also suggests SDGs Champions volunteer engagement and placement in public offices at national, sub-national, district, and sub-district levels facilitate and guide related duty bearers on SDGs priority themes and implementation mechanisms.