Building capacities to mainstream the SDGs in Pakistan
Soon after the adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a unanimous resolution to mainstream SDGs into the country’s National Development Goals. The Government of Pakistan initiated localization of the SDGs by signing a co-financing agreement with UNDP to set up SDG Support Units in the federal and provincial planning and development institutions. The units are key to the institutionalization of work on the SDGs, and to building national ownership at an early stage.
The agreement laid the foundation for a national UNDP programme on localizing the SDGs, mainly funded by Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments. By 2016, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform and four provincial planning and development departments had committed $15 million to operationalizing the units. The federal government has also established a SDG Fund and asked provinces to establish similar funds to which the Federal Government will contribute half the costs. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for example, has now set aside more than $90 million for its plans to achieve the SDGs.
The SDG support units will broadly focus on mainstreaming the SDGs in national and subnational policies and plans, gathering and analyzing data for monitoring and reporting on the goals, financing and budgeting for the SDGs and establishing an innovation fund for accelerating progress on priority goals. The units serve as platforms bringing together different government and other actors at the federal, provincial and district levels.
Building federal and provincial capacities
UNDP offers a range of project management support services to Pakistan’s national and provincial governments aimed at building capacities in public institutions to achieve the SDGs. These include hiring staff for the SDG Support Units, which entails managing the recruitment process from job classifications to contract management. Around 30 national staff are working on UNDP contracts. UNDP also procures equipment for the units, including computers, office furniture and other accessories, and secure the services of national and international consultants as needed.
The Government has strict rules on travel and accommodation allowances for non-governmental people invited to meetings, as well as venues outside government facilities. UNDP eases this bottleneck by arranging consultations with diverse stakeholders on the SDGs managing invitations, boarding and lodging for participants, and compiling meeting reports and follow-up action plans.
Starting in Punjab province, UNDP is helping the provincial government create communities of practitioners on different SDG thematic areas, including education, health and infrastructure. It prepares terms of reference for the communities, identifies members, helps guide the agenda, provides secretariat support, compiles key findings and recommendations, and manages follow-up action plans. Officials have shown keen interest in learning from other countries and are considering a learning alliance between Punjab’s Planning and Development Department and a similar institution in another country. UNDP is facilitating this process around localizing and delivering the SDG agenda.
The SDG Support Units as a whole provides capacity development support in select areas, such as foresight and evidence-based planning and targeting. Training is already benefiting government officials, especially in planning, finance and statistics departments, to use the Multidimensional Poverty Index for decision-making and project planning. UNDP supported a recent report on the index, which was calculated at the federal, provincial and district levels; Punjab province subsequently prioritized 10 of its poorest districts for increased allocations of public development funds.
Continued partnership with UNDP
Partnership between UNDP and the Government of Pakistan continue to broaden. UNDP and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform signed a government co-financing agreement in 2016 for civil service reform. In addition, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has committed to providing around $3 million for a rule of law programme drawing on UNDP’s Implementation Support Services.