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“New enthusiasm” for development goals
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“New enthusiasm” for development goals

Poverty, inequality and climate change are some of the global realities putting the future of our people and planet in jeopardy. Sarmad Shahbaz Bhutta, a 20-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Pakistan writes that the Sustainable Development Goals are not just a global initiative to achieve a sustainable future but a national plan for Pakistan that’s being pursued with “new enthusiasm.”  

We don’t have plan B because there is no planet B. We have to work very hard, very seriously and urgently.” This statement from United Nations Secretary-General  Ban Ki-Moon reminds us why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are so vital to people everywhere and in Pakistan, more attention is being given to these goals, unlike the Millennium Development Goals which were in general, considered as an UN-driven initiative. 

Outlined in the Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development  UN declaration, the SDGs are focused on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. Packed into 17 goals, they address an extensive range of sustainable development issues including eliminating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.193 states have signed up to the declaration and are together pursuing the 169 targets. Pakistan was one of the first countries to adopt the SDGs not just as global goals but as national development goals. While The UN Sustainable Development Goals Index ranks Pakistan at  122  of 157 nations because of feeble government policies in the initial stages, things are now changing.

There is a new enthusiastic approach by the government, with the SDGs being pushed and prioritized. People at different levels are becoming more aware of what is required for the sustainable development of the country, and civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and non-profit organizations are standing side by side with the government and international organizations to undertake SDGs campaigning, promotion and implementation of the SDGs on the ground.

On the local level, there are more seminars, conferences, awareness sessions, and workshops on the SDGs.People are getting more interested in the SDGs because of this consistent promotion. To strengthen efforts at federal and provincial levels to achieve Pakistan’s sustainable development and poverty reduction targets, it was the government that directed deliberations on the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with stakeholders and the seven pillars of Vision-2025 Pakistan are fully associated with the SDGs. This provides a wide-ranging long-term scheme for achieving comprehensive growth and sustainable development. At the federal level, an SDGs Monitoring and Coordination Unit is being set up in coordination with UNDP, to serve as a national coordinating entity, with similar units in the provinces.

Not everyone believes in the SDGs. Some persons at the international level have argued that an inherent shortcoming of the SDGs is the very concept of sustainable development. There is the view that it is contradictory to be seeking high levels of global GDP growth, as this will undermine the very ecological objectives of the SDGs and there’s the argument that pursuing the SDGs has failed to stabilize rising carbon dioxide concentration.

For Pakistan though, the Sustainable Development Goals are not just international ideals but national goals and I believe with the new enthusiasm I have seen, pursuing these goals will empower us to join the league of upper-middle-class countries by 2030.

Photo Credit: Vicki Francis/Department for International Development via Flickr (license)

http://www.sdgnederland.nl/ via wikicommons (license)

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About me: Sarmad Shahbaz Bhutta, 20, an award-winning young leader is a Commonwealth Correspondent from Pakistan who writes on the important topic: the Sustainable Development Goals. Sarmad is currently working as a campaigner of SDGs in Pakistan, doing promotion and spreading awareness while partnering with many national and international organizations 

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Click here to see what young people all over the world are doing to help to achieve the SDGs.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect, and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

 

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