UNDP in Pakistan: Annual Report 2018
In 2018 we celebrated many new beginnings.
The people of Pakistan participated in General Election 2018, the second time in history that an elected government completed its term of office and handed over power to an elected successor. Prior to the election we supported the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to inform voters, train polling officials and bring out the vote, especially among women and disadvantaged communities. This was an important contributor to ensuring peaceful and transparent polling, and a milestone on the long path to ensuring that all eligible voters, including women, transgenders, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups are registered and exercise this constitutional right.
For the people of the Newly Merged Districts (former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA), this year truly marked the start of a new era. In May 2018, parliament passed the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment merged FATA with adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and for the first time in history, brought its people under the same constitutional arrangements and judicial oversight following many years of insecurity, displacement and marginalization. We at UNDP are proud of the role we have played in providing technical support, convening debate and supporting the government in this historic change. We commit to working closely with the people of the Newly Merged Districts, and with the government to realize the promise of this amendment, help build peace and a vibrant economic landscape and bring this region from the periphery into the heart of Pakistan.
Another great advancement celebrated around the world was the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018. It is among the most progressive such legislation globally. While its true impact will be realized with effective implementation, this law makes Pakistan a global trailblazer in protecting the rights of a historically marginalized community, in particular by recognizing and protecting self-perceived gender identity. UNDP's role, in providing technical support and convening an inclusive debate to shape the bill, has been commended.
For UNDP, this year marked the start of new commitments. At the corporate level, we rolled out our new strategic plan, which will guide our support around the world from 2018 to 2021. This plan, which responds to the changing needs of a rapidly changing world, offers six “signature solutions”, six themes around which we organize our support to countries. These are: keeping people out of poverty; governance for peaceful, just and inclusive societies; crisis prevention and increased resilience; nature-based solutions for development; clean affordable energy; and women's empowerment and gender equality. Together, these themes are a pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In Pakistan too, UNDP has seen the start of a new commitment. This year we began implementing a new country programme. Drawing on our global experience, Pakistan's international and national commitments and the lessons learned from the first few years of work to achieve the SDGs, the new country programme (2018–2022) is driven by efforts to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs.
It acknowledges the challenges that Pakistan and the world face in achieving sustainable, equitable and transformational change, and underscores the need to expand partnerships and tap into non-traditional sources of financing to achieve sustainable development. We are now a fifth of the way through the SDG period. Pakistan has been a global trailblazer in setting up the structures and systems needed to achieve the SDGs. In 2018 a national SDG framework was approved. SDG units are now operating in every province and at the centre, and collaborative work has improved data collection for monitoring progress. There are openings that promote innovation and the participation of young people and the private sector in achieving the goals. Moreover, we have seen greater parliamentary engagement, with a new SDG taskforce established in Balochistan. We must maintain this momentum and increase it if we are to achieve peace and prosperity for all people.
Similarly, while there is growing awareness of the need to preserve the natural environment, reduce carbon emissions, explore clean energy generation, and mitigate the effects of climate change, far more needs to be done to achieve human and economic development while safeguarding the environment. Pakistan is uniquely vulnerable to climate change. Its mountain villages risk sudden, devastating glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF), while the plains experience both droughts and floods. Every Pakistani will have noted that episodes of extreme summer heat are becoming more frequent, or experienced the choking smog that blights many cities, particularly in winter. Taking evidence-based action is not just a matter of safeguarding the environment, it is a matter of protecting the health and economic future of Pakistan’s people.
On this note, I am proud to highlight the part UNDP is playing in contributing to the government's 10 Billion Tree Tsunami initiative. By promoting reforestation and sustainable forest management in several areas of the country, we are helping to improve native forest cover, protect wildlife and their habitats and build local livelihoods and guardianship of the land.
In this country programme we have put a deliberate focus on equity: to ensure that Pakistani women play an equal part in their country's development and the directions it takes. As such, we are bringing a gender lens to bear in all our work, internally and externally, and considering the impacts on, and voices of women at every stage. This is a long process, but even in historically conservative parts of the Newly Merged Districts we have seen some successes, with the formation of women's community groups to oversee local infrastructure projects in some areas.
In 2019, we at UNDP are reflecting on our experience in supporting the Government of Pakistan and all our partners. While we foresee significant challenges ahead, we are confident that the strong partnerships built over the years, and a commitment to succeed, seeking innovative approaches to come up with local solutions to address development challenges, will help us to reach our common goal: an equitable, prosperous, peaceful and resilient Pakistan.
Resident Representative a.i.