Islamabad - Pakistan People’s Party leader Senator Farhatullah Babar yesterday said the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals adopted unanimously by the UN member states is critical to transform the country from a security state to a welfare state as in Article 38 of the constitution.

Addressing Task Forces on SDGs in the provincial parliaments at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services here, he presented a 17-point Action Plan for achieving the 17 SDGs.

“Sustainable development is all about placing the human being at the centre of national discourse. All issues therefore whether population, environment, water scarcity, child and maternity deaths, stunted children, broken criminal justice system , right to information and freedom of expression are issues of sustainable development,” he said.

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 use of scarce water and incentivize local governments to implement the SDGs by increased allocations from provincial financial awards.

He said that achievement of SDG targets may be made a criteria 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 prioritization, he said, that child health, reproductive health, stunted growth of nearly half the children, and millions of out of school children deserved the highest attention.

The subject of population welfare and climate change should be included in the curriculum of schools and colleges, he said, adding also the overwhelming weight given to population in the NFC.

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.

The Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir should also be included in the Award.

Pakistan, he said, was among the 7 most affected countries due to climate change although it was at 135th in terms of contributing to global warming. A 100 billion dollars 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 India and Pakistan and called for including it in the composite dialogue,” Babar said.

This might also help in breaking the stalemate and pave way for progress in other contentious areas between the two countries, he said.

The lawmaker said a poor score card on 17 SDGs is a serious non-traditional threat to the security of the country. “Nuclear and strategic weapons will not protect Pakistan from the threat posed by rampant poverty, widening disparity between rich and the poor, stunted children, exploding population, unemployed frustrated youth and a broken justice system,” he said.

Meanwhile, at a separate event, country director Oxfam Qazilbash said that youth should understand they are not future of Pakistan but the present.

Addressing a seminar titled “Engaging Youth for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” arranged by a Non-Government Organization working on youth development, he said that earlier Millennium Development Goals had failed to meet the challenges of development and led the international community to create SDGs to include issues which were not incorporated in the MDGs. He said the government has decided to unite Pakistan’s National Development goals with SDGs. Pakistan is the only country to include SDGs in its national agenda and internal and external partnerships are necessary to realize these goals. He expressed concern about youth spaces shrinking in Pakistan due to extremism and said there is a dearth of appropriate platforms where the youth can express themselves and realize their potential in economic, social and political and civic spheres.

The objective of the seminars was to involve youth from higher education institutions in Pakistan with the SDGs through orientation and awareness. The seminars are focusing SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), SDG 8 (Sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth), SDG 11(Safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements) and SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). Country Director of Oxfam, Dr Yasinzai, appreciating the initiative, said that engaging youth in understanding SDGs was important and will help the students to play a constructive role and also challenge the government on development issues.