Challenges for Pakistan in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

The United Nations developed the 17 interrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), commonly referred to as the Global Goals, in 2015. These objectives are intended to solve the most important social, economic, and environmental problems facing the world today and to direct global efforts towards sustainable development. These are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. No Poverty: Put an end to poverty in all of its manifestations and ensure that everyone has access to social security, basic necessities, and equal rights.
  2. Zero Hunger: To end hunger and guarantee everyone has access to wholesome food, achieve food security, enhance nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Good Health and Well-Being: Ensure healthy lifestyles and promote well-being for individuals of all ages by tackling serious health conditions, offering universal access to healthcare, and assisting with mental health.
  4. Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, support opportunities for lifelong learning for everyone, and work to increase literacy rates and access to education.
  5. Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and give all women and girls the power they deserve while eradicating prejudice, violence, and harmful customs.
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure that everyone has access to clean water and adequate sanitation, while also enhancing water quality, conserving water resources, and resolving water scarcity.
  7. Access to Reliable, Sustainable, and Modern Energy for All: Encourage the use of renewable energy sources and energy-saving technologies.
  8. Promote full and productive employment, decent work for all, and sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth while abolishing child labor, forced labor, and slavery.
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Foster innovation, encourage inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and build robust infrastructure to ensure equitable and sustainable economic development.
  10. Reduced Inequalities: Promote social, economic, and political inclusion as well as equal opportunities for all people, regardless of their age, gender, handicap, race, ethnicity, country of origin, or economic condition.
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities: Promote sustainable urbanization, resource efficiency, and infrastructure development to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  12. Responsible Consumption and output: Encourage resource efficiency, cut waste output, and minimize environmental effect while ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Climate Action: Take swift action to combat climate change and its effects. Pay special attention to mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to lower greenhouse gas emissions and advance sustainable lifestyles.
  14. Life below Water: Protect marine ecosystems, fight pollution, stop overfishing, and deal with acidification while conserving and using oceans, seas, and marine resources responsibly.
  15. Life on Land: Prevent land degradation, protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests sustainably, stop desertification, and encourage sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: Foster inclusive and peaceful societies, ensure that everyone has access to justice, and create inclusive, effective institutions at all levels.
  17. Partnerships for the Goals: Promote cooperation across the public, private, and civil society sectors while strengthening the means of implementation and reviving the international partnership for sustainable development.

Challenges of Pakistan for Implementing the Goals:

The prospects for Pakistan is filled with obstacles, and its progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is slowing. Without a significant change in strategy, the nation is in for a challenging future. Pakistan was placed 154th on the Human Development Index in 2020 and 153rd on the Global Gender Gap Index in 2021, with 38% of its population experiencing multidimensional poverty.

According to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, Pakistan is similar to Afghanistan in that one in every four people there lives in extreme poverty. In 2022, Pakistan’s population is expected to exceed 230 million, with a 1.95 percent annual growth rate. It is anticipated that it would exceed Indonesia in population size in the year 2048, adding 5.28 million people each year.

Pediatric and mother mortality rates are still high despite increased life expectancy, highlighting the lack of health care for the female population. Pakistan is still one of only three nations that hasn’t been able to completely eliminate polio.

The rate of literacy in the school sector is still dismal at 59%, particularly for women who only make up about 50% of the population while men make up 68%. The career prospects and educational quality of recent graduates are relatively low, and the young population, which is expanding, has little to no access to high-quality education.

A shortage of energy is also occurring in Pakistan. Domestic and commercial customers have always been affected by power shortages and blackouts; this problem is not new. Hydroelectric, thermal, nuclear, and certain renewable energy sources are used in the energy sector, however non-renewables continue to be the dominant source. The textile industry has been more severely hit by energy shortages than other industries.

Cotton, one of the most important agricultural cash crops after wheat, rice, and sugarcane, is a vital component of the sector. Cotton output in Pakistan decreased in the fiscal year 2022–23 due to unfavorable weather. Moreover, the unprecedented floods in 2022 significantly damaged the standing cotton crop, slashing overall production to a mere 4.76 million bales (according to cotton arrivals till March 3, 2023) against the target of 9 million bales.

Due to resistance from incumbent landowners and the military, it has been challenging to implement land reforms to help with this. Despite Pakistan being a major producer of wheat and rice, the World Food Program reports that 21% of the population is undernourished, 44% of children under the age of five have stunted growth, and 37% of the population has food insecurity.


In addition to these issues, Pakistan suffers from severe water shortages. It is listed as having the 14th highest danger of a water catastrophe out of 150 nations. According to Water Aid, 70 million Pakistanis, most of whom live in rural areas, lack access to a basic toilet and 17 million do not have easy access to clean water close to their homes. This won’t take place without a significant shift in the governing elite’s and the civil and military bureaucracies’ ways of thinking. The SDGs would probably only be a pipe dream for the people of Pakistan if historical injustices and structural policy issues are not addressed.

Challenges for Implement SDGs in Pakistan
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