Pakistan is a country where democratic governance, culture, values and practices are still weak due to its geo-political situation and economic vulnerabilities. War against terrorism, subsequent natural calamities like earthquake in 2005 and country wide floods in 2010, 2012 and 2014 further provoked the socio-economic and political challenges. Therefore the attentions towards collective and inclusive decision making, increased transparency, rule of law and access to justice, protection of fundamental freedoms, empowering citizens & civic spaces, strengthening local governance, combating religious extremism, ensuring access to information and peaceful societies remained under stress despite continuous efforts of the subsequent governments. Consequently, combating inequalities, ending gender based violence, early child and forced marriages, child abuse, rising poverty and hunger, provision of basic social amenities and decent working environment and economic growth opportunities have further aggravated. Under such circumstances the new government that took over in August 2018 decided to present the Voluntary National Review of SDGs and initiated the participatory consultative process at national and provincial level in October 2019. However, the focus remained on figuring out the processes to achieve SDGs instead of measuring progress.
In the meanwhile, AwazCDS/Pakistan Development Alliance decided to conduct stakeholders’ consultations at district level to collect Citizens’ Voices from the grassroots to contribute in the National VNR process and report. The voices collected by AwazCDS/ Pakistan Development Alliance member organizations from 42 districts were also shared with concerned government authorities. The government acknowledged our efforts in the national VNR report as well as in the official statement of Pakistan Resident Mission at UNESCAP regional forum held at Bangkok in March 2019. However, the real voices and key findings of this long, comprehensive, inclusive and meaningfully done exercise, require more attentions of all the concerned stakeholders. Therefore, we are sharing the findings and key recommendations of citizens’ led monitoring carried out to review the progress made to achieve SDGs with you and all other related stakeholders on behalf of civil society of Pakistan.
It gives me immense pleasure to present you this comprehensive report titled Citizens’ Voices on Voluntary National Review and Status of SDGs in Pakistan 2019. The report shares the diverse opinion of people and related stakeholders regarding progress on the implementation of SDGs. Some views are much critical that includes the lack of ownership by the governments, inefficiencies and the dominance of non-democratic forces over strategic level decisions making negatively affected the implementation of SDGs agenda. Furthermore, unreliable data used as baselines weakened the legitimacy of the proposed framework and SDGs implementation processes. The report is primarily limited to only six priority SDGs (4,8,10,13,16 & 17) as set forth by UNHLPF for the voluntary national review for the year 2019.
Above than all, the report shares the real grassroots voices and results of first ever citizens’ led monitoring mechanism to assess the status of SDGs, adopted by the CSOs independently under aegis of AwazCDS/ Pakistan Development Alliance. The process and findings of this report sets the way forward for more innovative actions in future for measuring the progress on SDG.