Pakistan first to adopt SDG’s as its own development agenda: UN forum

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has made “considerable progress” in integrating anti-poverty Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its national policies, the National Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Zahid Durrani told a key United Nations forum on Tuesday.

“We were the first country to adopt the SDGs as its own national development agenda through a resolution adopted by our National Assembly in 2016,” Durrani told the forum.

The deputy speaker was addressing the parliamentary segment of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), held under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The forum was created to take stock of the role of parliaments in the implementation of the SDGs over the past few years.

“Parliaments not only reflect the aspirations of their peoples; they also undertake vital legislative, oversight, and policy review functions for the state,” he said.

Durrani said that Pakistan had assumed complete ownership of Agenda 2030 for SDGs, and was working “relentlessly” to strengthen its parliamentary institutions.

He also said that a Parliamentary Task Force had been established to strategise, legislate, and oversee the effort to implement the SDGs. The national and provincial as well as special area task forces are closely monitoring progress towards the SDGs, with 20 sub-groups formed at the National parliament.

Later, National Assembly member Shazia Marri spoke during the session on SDG 6, which calls for ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.

“Today, 2 billion people around the world still lack safely managed drinking water. Almost half of the global population, 3.6 billion people, lack safely managed sanitation,” she told the forum.

“Intense water scarcity may displace 700 million people by 2030,” she said, pointing out that Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries.

“Our climate is semi-arid, our food and agriculture production relies heavily on the Indus River and its tributaries for water. Pakistan has the largest continuous irrigation system in the world.”

She informed the forum that Pakistan aims to rehabilitate the Indus irrigation system through a project called ‘The Living Indus’, and that the 1960 Indus Water Treaty that has been facing legal battles with India, needed to be respected.

Marri also said Pakistan has established a Standing Committee on Water Resources to oversee this project.

“In order to achieve the SDG 6 targets, it is essential for all states to improve planning, governance capability, and finance at the national, provincial and municipal levels,” she stressed.

In another session on ‘Beyond GDP (Gross Domestic Product): Measuring and valuing What Matters to People and the Planet’, Senator Quratulain Marri offered her comments on the subject.

“The fact that GDP solely gauges the size of a nation’s economy and captures its overall wealth, without considering other relevant factors, has often been overlooked,” the senator said.

She pointed out that the GDP metric lacks the ability to capture income distribution within a society. It also does not consider environmental factors and ignores social protection and other conditions which determine quality of life.

She said it was “essential to refine the very definition of development”, noting the UN Secretary-General’s recent call for developing measures of progress beyond GDP.

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