ISLAMABAD: The achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted unanimously by the UN member states is critical to transforming the country from a security state to a welfare state, as enshrined in Article 38 of the Constitution.
This was stated by Senator Farhatullah Babar while addressing task forces on SDGs in the provincial assemblies at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) in Islamabad on Monday. He also presented a 17-point action plan for achieving the 17 SDGs.
Sustainable development is all about placing the human beings at the centre of national discourse, he said. All issues, therefore, whether population, environment, water scarcity, child and maternity deaths, stunted children, the broken criminal justice system, right to information and freedom of expression, are issues of sustainable development, he added.
The parliamentary task forces have a historic opportunity to help transform Pakistan into a welfare state instead of driven by security paranoid, he said.
The 17-point action plan envisages that provinces should set up SDG centres, launch mass awareness campaigns, adopt legislation to rationalize the use of scarce water and incentivise local governments to implement the SDGs by increased allocations from provincial financial awards, Farhatullah Babar said.
The senator said that achievement of SDG targets may be made a criterion in the NFC Award and ministries of population and climate change be established in provinces, besides adopting climate change legislation to provide for strong environmental protection councils. About prioritisation, he said that child health, stunted growth of almost half of the children, reproductive health and millions of out of school children deserved the highest attention.
The subject of population welfare and climate change must be included in the curriculum of schools and colleges, he said, adding that overwhelming weight was given to population in the NFC awards.
Distribution of resources on the basis of population is a political statement to reward population explosion that runs counter to the spirit of sustainable development, he said. FATA, GB and AJK should also be included in the award, the senator added.
Pakistan, Farhatullah Babar said, was among the seven most affected countries due to climate change, although it stood at 135th spot in terms of contributing to global warming.
A $100 billion fund had been earmarked by the Paris conference for climate impacted countries, he said and called upon the provincial governments to develop appropriate projects to benefit from this fund.
Issues in climate change, water scarcity and recurring floods are a shared challenge for Pakistan and India, he said and suggested for including it in the composite dialogue.
This might also help in breaking the stalemate and pave way for progress in other contentious areas between the two countries, the senator said.
A poor scorecard on 17 SDGs is a serious non-traditional threat to the security of the country, he said. Nuclear and strategic weapons will not protect Pakistan from the threat posed by rampant poverty, widening the disparity between rich and the poor, stunted children, exploding population, unemployed frustrated youth and a broken justice system, Farhatullah Babar added.