“The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations.” These words lie at the heart of Agenda 2030, the global commitment to achieve sustainable development for all. Young people worldwide have been instrumental in formulating this agenda, and their contributions are now essential to realizing its ambitions.
Pakistan Country Office has made significant strides in gender-related work in Pakistan. Efforts to implement the fifth SDG goal to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” are visible in the country programme across its thematic areas in about 30 projects and programmes.
Last month, UNDP launched its 27th Human Development Report, based on a ground breaking approach that recognizes that it is people – you and I and our families and communities – who stand at the heart of development. That while economic growth is important to bringing prosperity, wealth is only a means to an end. The true measure of a country’s success lies in the wellbeing of its people, and the opportunities and choices they have to live the lives they value.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) lie at the heart of inclusive markets. They are also important employers of marginalized groups such as women and youth, offering opportunities to people who may otherwise be excluded from the economic mainstream. In Pakistan, nearly 90 percent of all enterprises are SMEs, employing 80 percent of the non-agricultural workforce. They contribute 40 percent of Pakistan’s GDP and can potentially play an even greater part in economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Last year, at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, the world’s nations came together and vowed to transform our world. Pakistan was amongst those nations, and took its commitment a big step further: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it was declared, would be Pakistan’s national development goals. Today, nine months after that historic summit, UNDP is working closely with Pakistan to plan its path towards achieving the 17 SDGs. This is not a minor task: Pakistan’s 15-year efforts towards the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 bore little fruit – indeed, the country didn’t achieve a single one of the nine goals. And the SDGs are even more ambitious, with 169 targets against just 18 for the MDGs, with a far broader remit including inequality, environmental sustainability and energy security.
by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan There are more young Pakistanis today than ever before. Nearly a third of the population is between 15 and 29 years of age; together these young people make up a vast pool of energy, talent and enthusiasm to build a better Pakistan. This large youth population is a great gift for any country. As the young enter employment, they form the biggest workforce in history, bringing prosperity and vigour to the national economy and to society as a whole. There are also great risks inherent in a large youth population. If denied the opportunities to attain a full education, earn a living, or to participate fully in the life of their community or nation, young people are at risk of turning to violence, extremism or unrest. Without hope of a better future as full citizens of an inclusive and dynamic society, they become vulnerable to crime or extremism.
In recent years, we have witnessed hundreds or thousands of Pakistani communities withstand shocks that should break them. And we have learned that it is essential to support vulnerable communities in difficult areas, to build their resilience so they are able to bounce back, even after catastrophic events, and maintain the social and economic networks on which we all depend. This is one of UNDP’s priority areas in Pakistan. To help those displaced from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) return and rebuild their lives, we assisted the FATA Secretariat develop the Sustainable Return and Rehabilitation Strategy, to bring these communities home to a supportive environment, where damaged infrastructure has been rehabilitated, and where there is good governance and law and order.
70 years after the founding of the United Nations, we continue to witness considerable global changes. Political representation and national identity are changing, more people live in cities, poverty has fallen and technology has revolutionized every aspect of human life. At the same time there are rising inequalities, increasingly ideological conflicts, scarcer resources and climate change. Since 1960, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has worked with government and Pakistani society to find sustainable solutions to Pakistan’s most intractable development challenges. Under the Government of Pakistan’s leadership, UNDP has invested in policy dialogue for human development and built institutional capacity, becoming a trusted partner.
On 26 October, an earthquake in the Hindu Kush mountains shook Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although assessment is still underway, the damage seems less severe than originally feared. Still, hundreds were killed and many left homeless at the start of winter. For many, it was a brutal reminder of an even more devastating day ten years earlier. On 8 October 2005, as children made their way to school, the earth shook in northern Pakistan. By the time it stilled, schools, homes and hospitals lay in rubble. The region’s infrastructure was devastated, 73,338 people were dead, and 3.5 million in some of Pakistan’s poorest and most remote areas were affected. The Kashmir Earthquake and this latest warning – if we needed one – taught us a valuable lesson: in a country as prone to natural and manmade disasters as Pakistan, it is essential to invest in prevention so communities are resilient and can withstand shocks. Since 2005, Pakistanis have endured conflict and displacement, drought, flood and yet more earthquakes; and with a changing climate extreme weather events are increasingly frequent. For this reason this edition of our newsletter concentrates on the ways the country has put the lessons of 2005 into practice, and how we can all work together to prevent, prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters.
As UNDP Pakistan next National Human Development Report (https://vimeo.com/122077096) will analyze only 1 in 10 of youth are in stable employment – out of these, 36% spend more time searching for a job than actually doing one. And unemployed youth are not only a lost development opportunity but also exposes them to radical and criminal groups. See what we are doing here: http://nhdr.undp.org.pk/ or follow @JawanPakistan or on FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pakistan-Youth-NHDR/
In any country, even in well-established democracies, the legal framework and administrative processes for elections need to be seen as organic, requiring regular review and modification. This is not only to ensure compliance with international standards and obligations. It also reflects a broader political need to engage in continuous efforts to sustain confidence in the efficacy of the democratic system by making sure electoral processes are responsive and inclusive, and are aligned with the expectations of all electoral stakeholders.
The entire United Nations family in Pakistan came together on December 16 to condemn the barbaric attack on the school in Peshawar which killed scores of innocent children. We join our voices to those of the country which came together in unity to express shock and solidarity with the victims. We extend our prayers to those families who have lost loved ones and pledged to continue working for a more tolerant, educated, democratic, egalitarian and prosperous Pakistan. The attack unfortunately adds to the sense of crisis in Pakistan. It also highlights the need for a cohesive strategy to address head on the opportunities and challenges faced by young people in the country. Not only were the victims mostly children and young people but the attackers were also young men. National and provincial policies on youth should place greater emphasis on education, employment and engagement in society. The country needs urgent action on violence prevention, barriers to skills development and jobs, gender divides and wider aspirations of youth must take place in an inclusive environment. Unfortunately, for Pakistan’s youth the realization of these aspirations is complicated by numerous crises the country endured in 2014.
The budget is one of the most powerful fiscal instruments at the disposal of the incumbent governments to implement their political commitments and development agenda. Unfortunately the debate when it happens is overly focused on allocations and expenditures and rarely on the critical issues of transparency and accountability of the budget making process. Only a transparent and accountable budget making regime can ensure budgets achieve their results.
The National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) is considered to be the only corruption free public sector institution in Pakistan. The 2002 report of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s national anti-corruption body, notes, ““with regard to petty and middling corruption, the consensus has been that there is hardly an arm of Government which does not suffer acutely from corruption, with the exception of the Motorway Police.” The general public also perceives NH&MP a corruption free and clients’ friendly institution. So how was such an effective institution created in the backdrop of a very poor history of public service reforms in Pakistan and what are the lessons that could inform the discourse on public service excellence?
In the last 2 decades, most countries have registered significant improvements in human development. Now, vulnerability and the impact of crises and disasters are undermining the hard won progress or slowing down its growth. The annual growth in Human Development Index (HDI) value has declined in Pakistan from 2 percent in 2000-2008 to almost zero during 2008-13. The 2014 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) 2014 launched in Pakistan on September 18 demonstrates that progress cannot be sustained without building resilience
The launch of the Global Human Development Report 2014 in Pakistan on September 17 focused on addressing vulnerability and resilience for human development. The issue of vulnerability and resilience is unfortunately well known and interiorized by Pakistanis.
The impact of education investments is considered a simple linear function of inputs and outputs in most developing countries, including Pakistan. The measure of performance and the process through which inputs are converted into outputs, and subsequently, outcomes, are seldom discussed. Good governance—in terms of setting up performance benchmarks, systems of monitoring and accountability, and budgeting and distribution formulae—can considerably improve institutional effectiveness and results in the education system, without new inputs.
Editorial by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan I am pleased to introduce ‘Making a Difference,’ a monthly newsletter with a synthesis of results achieved in Pakistan. This newsletter shows how UNDP is contributing to transformational change in people’s lives in Pakistan.
Rukhsana relied on the support of her extended family when her husband was laid off from his job at a factory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. With support from the UNDP Community Resilience Initiative she received training in tailoring and embroidery, and she also learned valuable entrepreneurial skills. Due to skills enhancement efforts, household incomes of more than 4,000 people have increased by 15 percent in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
By Marc-André Franche, Country Director UNDP Pakistan. Nation-building processes cannot work and development goals cannot be achieved if women are denied meaningful political participation. To ensure this, Pakistan’s Parliament introduced a 17 percent gender quota in 2002 in all legislative houses. Unfortunately, despite the quota, qualitative indicators of women’s meaningful political participation remained low. Despite accounting for 22 percent of the federal parliament, from 2002-07 women could not achieve much in terms of lawmaking except the Women’s Protection Act. In the subsequent mandate of 2008-13 however, women made more progress, overseeing policy implementation and raising important issues in all Houses.
by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan. “I belong to a province where development indicators have not shown any substantive progress, so I intend to go back and work on social development as I know the priorities of the area,” says Zia Ud Din. Born in the small town of Pishin, Zia Ud Din worked part-time to make ends meet while he pursued his M.Phil. He learned about the UNDP-Higher Education Commission fellowship award supported by UNDP and immediately decided to apply to support his continuing studies. His winning thesis topic was “Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Development Pre- and Post-7th National Finance Commission Analysis."
UNDP Pakistan joined the Government of Punjab, a number of embassies and consulates, education institutions and the corporate sector to support the annual Lahore Literary Festival. I attended the Festival for the third year in a row along with many colleagues.