Islamabad: Federal Minster for Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Professor Ahsan Iqbal has called upon the regional countries to make joint efforts in achieving common goals of poverty alleviation, literacy, sustainable socio-economic development, and mitigation of climate disaster impacts.
He was speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Ministry of Planning Commission, UNESCAP’s 6th South and Southwest Asia High-level Political Forum and Policy Dialogue on SDGs.
The world is passing through unusual times, the innovative form of knowledge exchange, technology transfer, emergency response and recovery of livelihood and economies among the nations in the Global South particularly South and South-West-Asia is of immense importance than ever, remarked the Minister, while addressing in the forum.
We are among the first countries, who adopted SDGs as a national development agenda and established 7 specialized SDGs support units at the Planning and Development Departments at the federal and all provinces, said the Minister while highlighting the key initiates adopted by the Pakistan despite touch challenges.
Pakistan offers multi-billion-dollar investment opportunities in sectors aligned with the SDGs. The sectors ranging from transport and logistics, renewables and alternative energy, healthcare, education, and technology and communication and finance. CPEC also offers enormous opportunities in trade and transport logistics, skill development, and developing regional value chains with western China and central Asia, said the Minister.
Pakistan ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide most affected by climate change. With due cognizance of its vulnerability, particularly in the aftermath of recent floods in the country, the government played an instrumental role in historic decision of COP27 to establish the Fund for Loss and Damage caused by climate induced disasters, remarked the Minister.
Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Secretary for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, said that recent flooding in Pakistan has incurred a loss of over US$30 billion while the country needs at least $1 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the flood-hit areas.
Fathimath Niuma, the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure, Maldives said that regional and sub-regional collaboration is vital to cope with the COVID pandemic and the SDGs agenda. She said that the current challenges have made us realize that global and national priorities should be realigned to be more resilient and sustainable.
Shehan Semasinghe, the Minister of State for Finance, Sri Lanka, said Sri Lanka focuses on achieving high-level productivity through a diversified economy. He reiterated that “the government is committed to ensuring that the progress on SDGs would not reverse due to challenges such as COVID-19”.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said the objective of the forum is to foster and in-depth and shared understanding among the member states and stakeholders on strategies and opportunities at state, and sub-regional level to accelerate the implementation of 2030 agenda.
Mikiko Tanaka, Director and Head of UNESCAP Sub-regional Office for South and South-West Asia, Thailand said that regional countries are confronting with difficult times, therefore, they need to strengthen partnerships for regional development. She affirmed that UNESCAP will continue to support member countries in achieving SDGs or 2030 agenda.
Knut Ostby, the UNDP Country Director, said Pakistan has made significant progress in certain goals such as poverty eradication, access to energy, under nourishment, food insecurity, housing and climate change. “We don’t need building only concrete buildings, we need society to be resilient that is linked to SDGs,” he added.