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SDG’s and Pakistan – An Overview of 2022 

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were formulated by UNO in 2017 so that individual nations and the world collectively redefine their economic and social priorities and by 2030 most of living in the modern sense would become sustainable for the present as well as the future generation. 

This is the end of 2022 and there are seven more years to 2030 Pakistan has not been able to successfully implement or work upon these seventeen goals.  

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Here is the summary of each of the seventeen goals and their lack of implementation in a country (Pakistan) where millions of children are out of school, millions of women are not empowered, there is a political crisis, economic crisis, and social crisis as well as environmental crisis. Where the federal, as well as provincial governments, lack transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of structural reforms and where there is a serious crisis of governance at every step of economic, political, administrative, and judicial enforcement. Where there are inefficiencies in the energy sector, inefficiencies in the water sector, and in the deliverance of justice, law and order. Where extremism and terrorism have reemerged on the peripheries and poverty, unemployment and inflation have made the life of ordinary citizens difficult to manage. Where financial, natural, and human resources are flouted and pilferage due to the prevalence of corruption and nepotism. 

SDG 1. (No Poverty), the poverty ratio in Pakistan stood at 39.2% in 2021-22 (almost 90 million people of Pakistan’s 230 million population). The inflation rate in the country in 2022, has gone up to a record 25%, with the year-on-year transport index rising by 64.73%, perishable food items up by 33%; non-perishable food items by 28.12%, education by almost 10%, and health by 11.22%. All this is in the backdrop of growth rates declining from 6.0% to 2.2%, US $ increasing to Rs. 250 a dollar, and energy costs (fuel, petrol, electricity, gas) skyrocketing in 2022. 

SDG Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Land productivity of the farming sector in Pakistan, especially for food crops is one of the lowest in the world and one of the lowest in the region. Only 8% of the GDP comes from farming. Food insecurity can be measured, when we divide the total food crops produced in Pakistan by 230 million population, we get per capita: wheat 0.11 tons; rice 0.04 tons; total food grain 1.55 tons, etc. in 2022.  

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SDG Goal 3 (Good Health}, for a population of 230 million, Pakistan in 2022 had 1,276 hospitals, 5,802 dispensaries, 5,558 health centers, 780 maternity and child centers, 736 rural health centers, 416 TB centers, and approximately 147 thousand beds, 266,430 doctors, 30,501 dentists, 121,245 nurses, 44,693 midwives, and 22,408 lady health visitors. While the expenditure on Health by the government was Rs. 122,867 million in budget 2022-2023. The Maternity Mortality ratio in the country was (to every 1,000 pregnancies) 186 deaths and the under 5 child mortality rate in the country was (per 1000 births) 62 deaths. 

SDG Goal 4 (Quality Education for all), the Federal Budget of Pakistan 2022-2023 is envisaged at Rs. 12,400 billion for education which is 1.2% of the entire budget. while 24.6 million children were enrolled in primary classes in the country, only 1.8 million reached high secondary levels and 22.8 million children of school-going age were not in schools.  

The majority of these out-of-school children are girls. 

SDG Goal 5 (Gender Inequality), Pakistan has one of the highest birth rates of 22 births per 1,000 people. 49% (112.7 million) of the population are women and girls. About 0.1 million are registered transgender in the country. Physical violence towards women was 13.6% in Pakistan – 10.3% in Urban Areas and 15.6% in Rural areas. Women in Pakistan do not have equal access to schooling, justice, or inheritance rights. The Health and survival of girls and women present an even grimmer picture.   

SDG Goal 6 (Clean Water & Sanitation), Most of the villages and small towns in the country lack water and sewerage infrastructure, while the infrastructure in the cities is outdated and outmoded polluting drinking water and open sewer is dumped in rivers and water channels impacting on the flora and fauna adversely,  and now because of recent devastating floods, the access to safe drinking water is a significant concern, and communities are increasingly resorting to open defecation, heightening the risk of water and sanitation-related diseases. Cases of diarrhea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been reported. 

SDG Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Most of the gas produced in the country has been eroded by domestic consumption of cooking, electricity production, industrial usage, and is used in fertilizers. Pakistan’s successive governments have imported LNG at costly rates, thus increasing the cost of gas and electricity. The energy mix in producing electricity in the country consists of 4% nuclear, 29% hydro, 61% fossil-based fuels, and 6% others. Therefore, the energy in Pakistan is neither clean nor cheap. Pakistan has an untapped potential for electricity generation of 100,000 MW (Thar coal), 56,000 MW (hydro), 150,000 MW (wind), and ~50,000 MW (solar). 

SDG Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), In 2022 Pakistan’s GDP stood at US $ 346.34 billion (or Rs. 78 trillion). The population growth rate of Pakistan is near 2.9% while its GDP growth rate was at a dismal 2.2%, the unemployment rate is 6.5%, the inflation rate in the country is almost 25%, the Rupee–Dollar parity is Rs. 224.5 to one US $, the FDP to Pakistan is US $ 0.95 billion, the portfolio investment are minus US $ (-) 30.0 billion, the trade deficit is US $ 27.8 billion, and the Balance of Payments Current Accounts deficit is US $ US $ 13.17 billion and the foreign reserves of SBP in December 2022 are only US $ 5.8 billion. Pakistan’s Public debt has reached Rupees 42.4 trillion (US $ 188.44 Billion). The World Bank has projected Pakistan’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio to 90.6% in the current fiscal year 2022-2023. 

SDG Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), is for Pakistan, a nation that has 5th largest population, a youth bulge, and a territory that is 34th largest in the world with more than 70 million labor force and another 70 million (mostly women) home-based workers and has (after these floods) almost 12 million unemployed. Pakistan’s road network is 263,000 km and caters to about 80% of commercial traffic. Pakistan ranks 105th in the world with 0.05 meters per inhabitant. The share of both agriculture, as well as industry in GDP, is shrinking threatening food security as well as employability in the country. The industry’s share in Pakistan’s GDP is 24%. Out of this 24%, 5.5% comes from mining, 1.0% from SME, and the rest 17.5% from the largescale manufacturing industry. With high inflation and the cost of doing business, the FDI is shrinking, putting pressure on the sustainability of the economic resources in Pakistan. Major constraints to industrialization are:  Low productivity of labor and machines, a narrow base of skills, competence, and productivity, a skill gap in key modern technologies missing and a High cost of production. There are insufficient economies of scale. 

SDG Goal 10 (Inequality), Out of 230 million Pakistanis in 2022 almost 80% live with an income below Rs. 1,000 (US $ 4) a day.  The official minimum wage in Pakistan is Rs. 25,000 (US $ 108) a month or Rs. 833 (US $ 3.6) a day, and many Pakistani families do not receive this minimum wage for their daily work in the country. The per capita income of Pakistan in 2022 is US $ 1800 (Rs. 414,000) a year or Rs. 1,134 (US $ 5) a day, just above the minimum wage. Women do not have equal opportunities to men in many fields of life. Even poorer men do not have equal opportunities to their more fortunate richer colleagues in the country due to a lack of facilities, lack of opportunities, and due to lack of reforms governing the life and property of the citizens of Pakistan. The wealthiest 10 percent of households in the country own 60 percent of household wealth, while the least wealthy 60 percent own just one-tenth of it.  

SDG Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), There are 500 cities and towns and more than 5000 villages in Pakistan. Many of these villages have been wiped out from the map due to the recent flooding in 2022 in the country affecting more than 10 million people. “Massive floods in 2010 also destroyed or damaged an estimated 1.7 million houses, forcing millions of Pakistanis to move to temporary shelters”. Karachi and Lahore are considered one of the more populated cities in the world with populations of 15 million and 13.5 million respectively. Other cities with more than a million population in Pakistan are – Faisalabad (3.2 million), Rawalpindi (2 million), Gujranwala (2 million), Peshawar (1.97 million), Multan 1.87 million), Hyderabad (1.7 million), Islamabad (1 million), and Quetta (1 million). Pakistan is facing a critical housing shortage. A large population in cities (almost half) lives in shanti towns or slums. Estimates suggest that 4.37 million households, equaling 12.3% of the total households, live in congested conditions, with over two-thirds of these in rural areas (3.04 million), Almost 10% of houses in cities have crowded living conditions. nearly one-third of the population is without housing. living on footpaths, side of roads, under bridges, or in any open area. Pakistan because all water channels, as well as groundwater, are polluted and Pakistan ranks at the bottom of the list of countries with the most polluted rivers and water channels. 

SDG Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns), The industry and the private sector, both in agriculture as well as the manufacturing sector have unsustainable behaviours towards production and consumption and have no regard for sustainable development goals. The onus of unsustainable consumption patterns in Pakistan falls on the middle-income groups and the rich families in the country which total almost 20% of the population. Misuse of water, electricity and other resources is prevalent in the country. Mismanagement of sewer facilities also pollutes the streets of cities and towns, while there are no sewer facilities in the rural areas and slums of Pakistan. one side the country is in serious need to manage food resources, energy resources, and water sensibly and sustainably, on the other side the governments at different tiers need to manage solid waste, etc. in such a way that our cities and villages become sustainable and livable for our children and grandchildren. 

SDG Goal 13 (Climate Change and Climate Action), Pakistan is a frontline country that is affected by climate Change and Global warming, although from no fault of its own. Pakistan is among 23 countries that are facing drought emergencies over the past two years (2020-2022). The impact of world warming on Pakistan is that our glaciers are melting at a fast rate creating lakes in the valley below that have devastated the settlements, grazing pastures, and agricultural land downhill, forcing villagers to move to higher, but less fertile lands. The melting of glaciers also means less water in the rivers and in the dams. It also means more water every year is falling into the sea creating a sea rise that encroaches on the land forcing villages around the coasts to move inland. Diminishing mangrove forests also do not help the coastal villages from sea erosion and encroachments. Freshwater gets mixed with sea water, resulting in diminished fresh water resources around the coastline. Climate migrants are increasing in the country. The velocity of the recent monsoon rain has created an unprecedented flood situation in Pakistan. A large part of the country was seriously affected by these floods that left mass destruction in its path. Whole villages (80% of houses in Pakistan) were washed away leaving no trace of the settlement behind. More than 3,500 people lost their lives, and 33 million were left homeless. 8,00,000 officially registered internal refugees living in makeshift tents. 1,460 health facilities have been affected. Education for 3.5 million children has been interrupted. Tens of thousands of people are affected by diarrhea, malaria, acute respiratory infections, skin and eye infections, and typhoid. Croplands were destroyed and would remain underwater for years to come due to a lack of governmental support that should have helped mitigate from dangers of floods. Roads and bridges and other infrastructure were also swept away. 

SDG Goal 14 (Life Below Water), The freshwater fish fauna of Pakistan is represented by a minimum of 193 fish species. The population of some of the species is declining due to habitat loss and degradation, water abstraction, drainage of wetlands, dam construction, pollution, and eutrophication. Pakistan’s coastline is about 990 km long, The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Pakistan covers an area of about 240,000 sq. km. The maritime zone of Pakistan, including the continental shelf, extends up to 350 nautical miles from the coastline. 90 percent of industrial effluent and sewage produced in the country’s biggest city is poured into the sea directly. About 550 million gallons per day (MGD) of mostly untreated wastewater is entering the coastal waters affecting the coastal areas), solid waste (approximately 16,000 tons to 18,000 tons of solid waste is generated in Karachi alone). Plastic waste has become a hazard for marine life across the coastal belt of the Country. About 2,500 ships and 200 oil tankers visit Karachi harbor through the Manora Channel annually adversely affecting the marine life on our coastal belt and the Arabian Sea. 

SDG Goal 15 (Life on Land), Pakistan. has a diverse range of forests, from mangroves in the south to pine forests in the north. Only 5.7% of the total land area of Pakistan is covered with forests, but the rate of depletion of the forest cover that’s left continues to be high. Pakistan has some of the world’s rarest animals and plants. Species that thrive in the ecological niches created by thick tree cover are also likely to become extinct once those protective and nutrient-rich surroundings are degraded. One of the issues relating to deforestation as well as desertification and loss of biodiversity is the mismanagement and unsustainable use of resources in Pakistan. All are responsible, but the Governments from federal, provincial, and local levels lack the capacity and capability to understand the volume of Challenges as well as mechanisms to mitigate and reverse the impact of devastation, the callousness of the profit-hungry private sector towards the environment and biodiversity as well as the general population – the rich and poor alike for not reverting towards sustainable for life living and working practices and behaviors. 

SDG Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), Pakistan is a classic case where most (if not all) of these subgoals of SDG 17 are not met.  In Pakistan, women, religious minorities, and transgender people continue to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators to account. The government continues to do little to hold law enforcement agencies accountable for torture and other serious abuses. Several Journalists were murdered, others suffered violent attacks and many people disappeared from the country. Voices were suppressed when media was curbed through different forms of regulations and restrictions. Religious minorities are intimidated by private actors, religious zealots, as well as government actors in open defiance of the Constitution of Pakistan. Violence against women and girls, including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage, is endemic throughout Pakistan. Roughly 1,000 women are killed in so-called honor killings every year. Child marriages also remain a serious problem in the country. Pakistan has still not enacted a law criminalizing torture. Institutions in Pakistan are inefficient, full of corruption, and lack transparency. The rule of Law is missing in Pakistan. Governments of any political party irrespectively fail to complete their respective tenures where not a single prime minister. The judiciary is not seen as independent and is considered to be shielding corrupt political practices from prosecution. Consequently, the army comprises a “state within a state” with increasing power over the economy, foreign policy, and domestic allocation of resources. Political parties in Pakistan lack internal democracy, relying on patron-client networks to garner votes, and the judiciary plays a subservient role to the military and political class. 

SDG Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals), Pakistan’s Public debt has reached Rupees 42.4 trillion (US $ 188.44 Billion) by the end of 2022. The World Bank has projected Pakistan’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio to be 90.6% in the current fiscal year 2022-2023. Pakistan’s GDP stood at US $ 346.34 billion (or Rs. 78 trillion). Or, Pakistan has only 9.4% (Rs. 7.3 trillion or US $ 32.55 billion) of its GDP as its own resource. BOP deficit at US $ 13.17 billion and FDI diminishing to US $ 0.95 billion and portfolio investment at minus US $ -30 billion, and reserves have fallen to US $ 5.8 billion, therefore what part of the economy is sustainable for its present generation, leaving aside its future generation that are mostly uneducated and unskilled and lacks labour productivity in the real sense. 

The first priority for the government of Pakistan is to re-negotiate the major portion of its public debt. Negotiating the retirement of another portion of Pakistan’s debt by our international partners is another solution to the issue, with a promise that the money thus saved would be spent on the education and training of its future generation into skills that can sustain them and the economy in the future.  Now is the time for the government of Pakistan should allow FDI in tourism, energy and water resources, mining, agriculture, industry and service sectors, etc. So that not only money comes into the country, but also technological, management, and other such skills are imported through joint ventures that would create employment opportunities for young boys and girls as well as revenue can be generated through taxing enhanced economic activity. Competition should be promoted between our USA, EU, and Chinees partners for better efficiency levels in the economy.  

Also, sectors like energy and food should be promoted so that Pakistan can successfully replace foreign energy resources and cooking oil, and other agricultural products with domestic production of these import substitutes that would save much-needed foreign exchange for the country. It is recommended to link these schools with international partners from the region and from the industrially advanced countries so that our children can be trained in tomorrow’s work habits and technologies as well as entrepreneurship for creating more and more startups. Industry and agriculture should diversify for food security as well as for sustainable consumption and production needs of the population and also cater to earning much-needed foreign exchange through exports and import substitution. 

All this needs restructuring and revamping of our administrative, judicial, and law and order system Reforms in all the sectors to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks would go a long way in reestablishing the economic initiative that Pakistan and its business community lacks at the moment in order to stem the downward trend of the economy and unsustainability of our international partnerships. World human rights norms and environmental norms would have to be part of the economic package for foreign investors to revisit Pakistan’s economy. A lack of governance and transparency would not let Pakistan stem this downward trend. Immediate action is needed to correct things, and dialogue between all stakeholders – political and economic is an essential ingredient to this revival of the economy and the country’s international prestige. Delay and bad governance would only lead Pakistan towards an economic dishevel and isolation towards a banana republic for any superpower to pluck the fruit of decay when the indicators are so bleak and unsustainable.


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