The SDGs, which bind Pakistan — and Punjab by extension — to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030, have been fully aligned with the provincial policy and will be reflected in the planning and budgetary allocations next year.

According to the Punjab SDGs’ Support Unit officials, the province has identified and prioritised all areas that need immediate attention. The Punjab Policy Framework, reflecting these priorities, was approved by the Advisory Board — the highest provincial body — last week.

All the administrative secretaries attended the approval meeting and were told to coordinate with the Support Unit. This approval allows provincial departments to align their planning to the SDGs starting from January next year.

Explaining the approval and prioritising process, the officials say that since provincial data covering all 15 areas that fall under the second SDG (zero hunger) was not available, Punjab adopted guidelines issued by the Planning Commission of Pakistan.

It is believed that instead of losing time in collecting data, it is better to scan the information available and determine the urgency of different goals, based on which the general guidelines were composed and incorporated in the planning process.

Since the province requires the full range of reliable data, the unit has also suggested new surveys and expansion of current ones. Furthermore, is in the process of helping Punjab formulate medium- and long-term policies. Overall, these factors augur well for the future of SDGs in the province, the unit officials hope.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, September 23rd, 2019