Critical Analysis Of ‘Zero Hunger’ And The Case Of Pakistan – Analysis
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as Global Goals, are a group of 17 goals adopted by all member states of the United Nations (UN) in 2015 in order to promote prosperity and safeguarding the health of the planet in tandem. The SDGs came subsequent to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – 8 MDGs in total – and are part of the Agenda 2030 of the UN. (1) The 2030 Agenda laid out a 15-year plan for all member states to implement the various interlinked SDGs, and it addresses global challenges like environmental degradation, poverty, peace and justice, climate change, inequality et cetera. Each goal comes with targets and additionally indicators. There are 169 targets along with 243 indicators. The indicators are jointly known as global indicator framework designed by Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indictors (IAEG-SDGs). In other words, the collection of goals, targets and indicators are supposed to help member states to formulate and evaluate their policies until the year 2030. It is important to note that governments are not bound to these goals legally, rather more of a matter of taking ownership for a sustainable future. (2)
Any discussion on SDGs needs to first define the meaning of sustainable development, which may be intuitively understood but difficult to define especially in operational terms. It refers to the kind of development which is able to meet the needs of the present generation while sustaining the ability of the posterity to meet their needs in the future. It can only materialize if there is a consonance between social inclusion, protection of the environment and economic growth in order to ensure a resilient, inclusive and sustainable planet. (3) So sustainable development juxtaposes development and sustainability. The concept has groundswell of support but it is important to note the essential needs of the developing world are to be prioritized here to create ecological as well as political stability. (4) Communication is sine qua non of sustainable development especially as a societal process. (5)
This paper will review the second SDG, “Zero Hunger” and jointly analyze 6 targets and 10 concomitant indictors. This will be followed by data on Pakistan vis à vis the said goal and lastly recommendations will be laid out generally regarding the SDGs and specifically on zero hunger.
Zero Hunger: An overview
“Zero Hunger”, the multi-pronged second SDG, to an extent self-explanatory and the focus of this paper, refers to the universal objective of ending hunger, addressing the overriding issue of rampant food insecurity, access to nutritional food and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. The performance of this goal is interconnected with other SDGs such as “No Poverty” and “Good Health & Well-Being”. Whereas, in other cases Zero hunger is interlinked to specific targets or indicators of other SDGs such as target 10.1 and its indicator 10.1.1 of SDG-10 (Reduced Inequality within as well as amongst countries), dealing with attainment of income growth of the bottom 40% households nationally. (6) Similarly, target 12.3 and its indicator 12.3.1 of SDG-12, (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), addressing the need to reduce food waste both at consumer and retail level, also food losses at the production stage and along supply chains. (7) Ergo, “Zero Hunger” is one of the most crucial SDGs.
The statistics in the 2021 report on the progress of SDGs by the UN Secretary General aren’t very encouraging in this regard as food insecurity as well as global hunger have been witnessing an upward trend since 2014. From 2014 to 2019, there was an increase of 60 million people going hungry. (8) In 2019 alone, 8.9% of the global population was affected by hunger i.e., 690 million people experienced severe lack of food. The task of Zero Hunger became an even more distant goal due to pandemic (COVID-19), and it is estimated that in 2020 another 83-132 million people have plunged into chronic hunger. (9) The developing world continues to grapple with the various kinds of malnutrition. The pandemic stripped layer after layer of the inefficiency of global as well as domestic food systems and supply chains. (10) Amanda Little, Professor of Journalism at Vanderbilt University, highlighted in her Ted Salon that in the early stages of the pandemic and lockdown, Spanish Chef, José Andrés tweeted two photos, one of gigantic piles of potatoes in Idaho which couldn’t be transported to restaurants and stadiums for consumption and in contrast the other picture was of multiple extended queues of cars outside a food bank at San Antonio, without enough food to go around. This speaks volumes about the food crisis in the US due to fragile and outdated food systems, one could conjecture how devastating the situation is in the developing world. (11)
In terms of food insecurity, the statistics give an abysmal illustration as there has been a rise from 22.4% of the world population in 2015 to 25.9% of the world population in 2019 being affected by food insecurity – that is more than an uptick as that means 2 billion people globally especially in the Caribbean, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, which witnessed greatest levels of the aforementioned malady. Conversely, the percentage of children under the age of 5 with stunted growth (low-height for age) dropped from 24.4% in 2015 to 22 % in 2020, however, this progress of access to nutritious diet has been offset by the pandemic. Moreover, when it comes to overweight and wasting (low-weight for height) amongst children under the age of 5, 5.7% (38.9 million) and 6.7% (45.4 million) children were affected in 2020 respectively. The pandemic is said to push 15% more children to suffer from wasting due to debilitating affordability of households and unavailability of nutritious food. While, the problem of childhood overweight is estimated to aggravate due to replacement of fresh food with synthetic food as well as limited physical activities. (12)
Another vulnerable group is the women vis à vis statistics from 2019 show how anemia was prevalent in 26.9% non-pregnant and 35.6% pregnant women, also found amongst 29.9% of women who fall in the reproductive age. South and Central Asia recorded the highest percentages. Furthermore, in most of the UN member states small-scale food producers’ annual income was 2 to 3 times less than large-scale food producers, while the trend of higher labor productivity and higher annual income amongst households headed by males in contrast to female-headed households has been widespread. In 2020, plant genetic resource holdings for agriculture and food hit the 5.7 million, conserved in 17 research centers across 144 countries, but there has been a decline in the growth of such holdings in the last 10 years. Despite research and strides into genetic diversity of both domesticated as well as farmed animals, the world is nowhere close to maintaining this diversity in the gene banks let alone the field. Based on the data from a limited local livestock breeds, an alarming 74% breeds are said to be at the risk of extinction. Another cause of concern is that only an estimated 2.6% (203) of the 7,700 local livestock breeds have the required genetic resources in the gene bank to bring a breed back from extinction. (13)
Along with this, the share of aid earmarked for agriculture has increased twofold since 2002 – 5% of the total aid – standing at $13 billion in the year 2019. Whilst, according to World Trade Organization (WTO) globally the export subsidy outlays have been on the decline since 1999 when it stood at $6.7 billion to $138 million in the year 2018. 2015 saw the adoption of Ministerial Decision on Export Competition by members of WTO going into an agreement to get rid of entitlements regarding agricultural export subsidies. Moreover, with the exception of North America, Western, Central and South Asia, the number of UN member states struggling with high food prices went down between 2014 to 2019. (14) Another concerning trend globally, however, is that of the higher prevalence of food insecurity amongst women as compared to men, from 2018-2019 the gender gap with regard to access to food expanded. (15)
Critique of targets and indicators
For starters, Zero Hunger (SDG-2) has a total of 8 targets; the first 5 targets starting from 2.1 to 2.5 essentially deal with achieving agricultural sustainability and food security. The remaining 3 targets listed from 2a to 2c attempt to encapsulate the objectives of slacking market constraints as well as assuaging market unpredictability and ramping up investment in agriculture. Targets can be defined as results/ outcomes that can be measured, are precisely defined and restricted by time; they help in the materialization of the goals. In addition, the aforementioned goal has 14 indicators, at an average of 2 indictors per target. Indicators in operational term refers to metrics employed to examine the attainment of the goals. They heavily depends on the availability of data. The focus of this research will be on 6 targets (2.1 to 2.5 and 2.c) and 10 indicators (2.1.1 to 2.5.2 and 2.c.1). (16)
Target 2.1 (Indicators 2.1.1 and 2.1.2):
There are limitations on how much specific data is available on particular groups mentioned in this target, for example the vulnerable, the poor and infants. The adjective “poor” could have different interpretations here, people above the poverty line or bordering it, the levels of poverty experienced varies. Moreover, Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) does to a notable degree records the complex and multilayered nature of food insecurity (both perceived and actual food insecurity), however, its data is unavailable for all UN member states. Examining the two indicators, the problem of data limitations isn’t addressed. Indicators could have rather been centered on intensity of food deficit or variability index of food supply (per capita). If the indicators were designed in accordance with the above recommendations, they could be observed with the help of international databases which are easily available. These recommended indicators are more in line with pillars of food security – the four pillars of food security entail “stability”, “access”, “utilization” and “availability”. (17)
Target 2.2 (Indicators 2.2.1 and 2.2.2):
Compared to the target discussed hitherto, target 2.2 doesn’t have the shortcoming of data constraints or unavailability of data that can be monitored globally, however, there is a troika of inadequacies vis à vis the two concomitant indicators. Firstly, said indicators are not adequately covering groups such as lactating women, adolescent girls, pregnant women and the older persons. Secondly, the indicators haven’t been designed with a syntax that doesn’t make a lot of sense or provides clarity, particularly not setting a specific base year (5) will keep the target virtually elusive, i.e., prevalence of wasting, underweight and stunting amongst children under the age bracket of 5. Lastly, all categories of malnutrition laid out by World Health Organization (WHO) have not be encapsulated – stunting and wasting are mentioned – such as micronutrient deficiencies, overweight, non-communicable diseases linked to diet et cetera. This target can use additional indictors which include prevalence of adult obesity and protein share from animal sources, both cover non-communicable diseases such as stroke, diabetes, heart diseases et cetera, prevalent in developing as well as developed world. Additionally, protein supply could be a useful indicator which can function as a proxy for the quality of food since insufficient to zero data is available on specific nutrients and the metric of pregnant women suffering from anemia (indicator) could be useful, providing greater coverage to a group stated in the target. Data on these recommended indicators is readily with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (18)
Target 2.3 (Indicators 2.3.1 and 2.3.2):
A diligent examination of the content of target 2.3 vis-à-vis ramping up agricultural productivity twofold, reveals that it cannot be applied universally. Some UN member states feature disharmony or tension between intensification of agriculture and its sustainability. Equal access to opportunities, productive resources, land, markets, financial services cannot be encapsulated profoundly. Measurement of productivity in terms of labor unit as compared to land may not be enough in a couple of cases as it can be challenging to exhume and analyze variations caused by labor productivity in the output of agriculture as compared to other inputs such as the use of machinery or compost – needle in a haystack. Moreover, the indicators don’t help much in determining the relationship between labor and agricultural productivity, due to this ambiguity it is difficult to set threshold values for each UN member state. A universal definition of who can be categorized as small-scale can be misleading. In the absence of a yardstick, income levels don’t reveal much about the living conditions of farmers, not an adequate window into their lives. The indicator of yield gap – according to definition of Global Yield Gap Atlas (GYGA) – can be more serviceable as it provides a yardstick for productivity; it captures agricultural intensification in relation to maximum yield of each member state on the basis of land. This recommended indicator can replace the existing one (2.3.1). Indicator 2.3.2 can be replaced by a pair of indictors, addressing income levels of the farmers. First is the share of farmers who are managing less than minimum wage nationally and second deals with the share of rural populace which is below poverty line nationally. Global analogies and insightful outcomes at the national level can materialize by virtue of these recommended indicators as national wages and poverty lines particular to a member state explain purchasing power parity (PPP) and exchange rates. (19)
Target 2.4 (Indicator 2.4.1):
Sustainability is a nuanced phenomenon, and vis-à-vis target 2.4 it entails things like irrigation systems, use of fertilizers and insecticides, water productivity, Green House Gases (GHGs), but only one indicator is mentioned and assumed to cover the entire gamut, avoiding multiple indicators that can be analyzed as resolving the problem of specificity – 2018 version of SDG-2 Target 2.4 had 3 indicators which addressed use of fertilizers and irrigation while not mentioning other facets of sustainability such as GHGs – by mentioning a few dimensions of sustainability. One the contrary, a single indicator could appear to be vague and additional information in the form of multiple indicators could generate greater understanding of how agricultural sustainability can be gauged. Single indicator appears to stem from expert-driven approach, not keeping in mind the varied target audiences that might subscribe to SDGs. The use of the term “sustainable practices” could impede cross-country similitude. Similarly resilience, which is part of the target text and intertwined with sustainability, isn’t described in the indicator. As mentioned above, a few new indicators could be added to this target such as average topsoil carbon content, average surplus of nitrogen and its efficiency, average productivity of water, use of pesticide over an area, percentage of water used in agriculture, magnitude of GHGs produced by food production. In addition, vulnerability index of climate change (Global Adaptation Initiative) can be espoused as it can provide essential data on how susceptible is a particular member state to climate change in the context of food production. (20) The text of this target could have used the term “regenerative agriculture”, finding solutions in the past i.e., traditional agricultural practices (will be discussed in the recommendations section). (21)
Target 2.5 (Indicator 2.5.1 and 2.5.2):
The fact that an infinitesimal number of plant species are part of world’s agriculture has contributed towards the decline in biodiversity and genetic diminution. It is estimated that over 50% of the energy for human consumption comes from the likes of maize, wheat and rice. This target relates to improvement as well as maintenance of diet quality, conserving the diversity of the various agricultural organisms (agrobiodiversity), incorporating resilience in food production systems and farm biodiversity. With reference to indicator 2.5.1 that deals conservation facilities of genetic resources of animals and plants for agriculture as well food, data is largely unavailableRef. Whereas, indicator 2.5.2 can mislead on what the bids of member states to conserve local genetic pools are due to variation in the cataloging of the proportion of local breeds. The first indicator could be replaced with average gaps in ex situ collections of specific crop gene pools, while the second indicator can be tailored to include “known risk of extinction” breeds. (22)
Target 2.c (Indicators 2.c.1):
This target deals with the food commodity markets and price volatility. Using the indicator of price anomalies (IFPA) could have its limitations, especially unavailability of price indices of all member states. One example is that of the Oceania region where only for a few countries, price indices are available which encumbers the ability to draw comparisons and conclusions, both at regional as well as international level, about volatility of food prices. (23) Factors behind price volatility could vary from country to country. It could be caused by price depreciation, staple food not being readily available, lack of market reforms, stranglehold of cartels et cetera. Ergo, IFPA has its limitations as it could be defined just as a guide to ascertain the dynamics of markets. Solely using it to determine whether there is a relationship between local policies and anomalous food prices (very high or very low) at a specific time and particular market cannot provide reliable information. Other aspects such as external shocks, data fundamentals of market and macroeconomics have to be combined with IFPA to get a real picture or actual understanding. Also, this target is connected to SDG 12 which deals in tandem with responsible/sustainable consumption and patterns of production. If food waste is brought down, it can in turn lower price volatility. (24) To conclude, establishment of a global emergency food reserve could have been added to the text of this target. (25)
Zero Hunger: Case of Pakistan
According to World Food Programme (WFP), Pakistan, a country with 207.7 million people, has turned food surplus; a major wheat producing country which distributes this staple food (wheat) globally with the help of WFP. It is estimated that 50.8% of the total monthly earnings of an average Pakistani household is expend on buying food, which makes them more susceptible to food price volatility. The shocks of climate change might further complicate a food crisis in the country. However, if one examines 2018 national nutrition survey, it presents a grave scenario, 36.9% of the populace is beset with food insecurity, while Pakistan ranks second in South Asia in terms of malnutrition as around 18% of the children below the age of 5 are suffering chronic malnutrition. In addition, the aforementioned age group has 29% underweight children and 40% are stunted. When it comes to undernourishment, 20.5% of the population fall under this category and a whopping 82% children don’t have access to the minimum meal number a day – between the age of 6 to 23 months, only 1 in 7 are able to have a meal which is diverse in dietary contents. The underlying cause for these abysmal statistics is largely due to acute economic deprivation, especially being faced by the lowest of rungs of the society and vulnerable strata such as women, whose diet is inadequate as well as lacking diversity. (26) High malnutrition has led to low productivity of the workforce as it is estimated to incur $7.6 billion (3% of the Pakistan’s GDP) due to low productivity. Overall poor hygiene and insalubrious food consumption further serve as a detriment. (27)
It is worth noting that between 2003 to 2019, undernourishment in Pakistan gradually saw a downward trend moving down from 33 million to 26 million affected people affected. However, these gains were monumentally challenged by the spells of drought, floods of 2010-13, locust invasions and more recently COVID-19. Lockdowns exacerbated poverty which contributed to food insecurity in 2019-20. The benefits of a diet which is both healthy and balanced could be understood from how this diet shift can help reduce around 97% direct as well indirect health expenses and bringing down the social cost of GHG emissions by 47 to 71% by the year 2030 – this is nothing short of a challenge in Pakistan which is on a low-nutrient, energy dense diet. In terms of food availability, there was a small silver lining of agricultural growth in 2019-20 by 2.7% eclipsed by a general economic shrinkage by 0.4% – livestock and major crops accounted for this growth highlighting the need to grow diverse foods in Pakistan. The pandemic also brought to fore the ignored flimsiness of Pakistan’s agri-food systems; unpredictability that engulfs labor force linked with agriculture including the invisible labor. (28)
Since 2011, Pakistan has taken a couple of strides to inch closer to the target of “Zero Hunger”. For starters, the country became a member of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement in order to enhance coordination between various agencies as well as stakeholders, expanding research and policy analysis/formulation, along with adoption of better monitoring mechanisms. Moreover, Pakistan Integrated Nutrition Strategy (PINS) was designed virtually a decade ago with the Federal Ministry of National Food Security initiating first of kind, National Food Security Policy in the year 2017. The initiation of Pakistan Dietary Guidelines for Better Nutrition (PDGN) and Pakistan Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy 2018-25 (PMNS) addressed the nutritional dire straits of children and women. In addition, partnerships have been created in the public-private domain, Universal Salt Iodization (USI) Programme covers 110 districts nationwide, 1,100 flour mills are part of Food Fortification Programme. The provincial governments have been contributed towards the said target. Sindh for instance started the Nutrition Support Programme under the Accelerated Action Plan designated for rein in malnutrition as well as stunting while, in Baluchistan, Nutrition Programme for Mothers and Children (BNPMC) is operational. In case of Punjab, Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy (MNSC-2015) has been devised to, inter alia, incorporate health reforms and prevent stunting. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is working within the framework of Stunting Prevention Rehabilitation Integrated Nutrition Gain (SPRING). (29)
Pakistan has been working on developing an Early Childhood Development (ECD) National Policy Framework. Introduction of tax exemptions (import duty) on equipment to be used in the fortification of food and promotion of “Zincol 2016” (Zinc rich-wheat) to ramp up the intake of both iron and zinc amongst the population. Wheat and edible oil fortification programme are operational. Wheat flour is being beefed up with folic acid, zinc and Vitamin B12 whereas, edible oil is being boosted with Vitamins D and A. (30) In 2019, the government launched “Ehsaas Langar Scheme”, an ambitious country wide establishment of 112 soup kitchens over a period of 2 years by partnering with Saylani Welfare Trust. (31) The concept of langars was even found during the Ottoman Empire commonly referred to as aqhane, daru’l-it’am, daru’z-ziyafe or imaret between 14th and 19th century, generally soup kitchens operate across the developing and developed world. (32) Although measures and policy towards realization of Zero hunger have been evident, however, due to inconsistency, corruption, lack of political will, natural disasters, market mafias, this goal seems far from accomplishment in Pakistan keeping in mind the 2030 Agenda.
Broadly speaking, communication of sustainability is key towards the successful understanding and implementation of all the SDGs, particularly effectively communicating the indicators to various audiences. The need for it can be seen from the fact that sustainability is yet to make it to the list of societal priorities globally. A volte-face is required when it comes to espousing sustainable ways, therefore information regarding SDGs and their goals need to be compiled and communicated. The academia, research scholars and technicians require specialized and scientific data, while the voters or journalistic fraternity/ media (non-specialized) prefer structured information. The likes of funding agencies, governments, bureaucracy, market representatives et cetera have a predilection to have some degree of details without being too technical in the SDG oriented information being put across to them. Currently, SDGs are aiding in the framing of policies however, it appears that the operationalization of goals as well as targets is being largely facilitated by the indicators. Ergo, the globally indicator framework could benefit from a revision conceptually and in terms of design for a more meaningful and unequivocal evaluation of SDG progress. Moreover, targets that can’t be quantified need to be worked on or done away with. International accords need to be linked up with the goals and their concomitant targets. Disharmonies between goals and targets also need to be solved. Along with this, since all member states are to work on progress reports and follow-ups, consistency of effort and commitment towards SDGs vary from governments to government. Hencre, there needs to be a mechanism starting with the developed countries where the process of some sort of accountability is done, even though the UN is not a supranational organization. (33)
In terms of the SDG-2 “Zero Hunger”, the nature of the approach ought to be ensconced in adaptation, participation and country centric solutions which are in unison with the domestic context i.e., dietary quality, capacities of the institutions, management of ecology and diversification of agri-food systems. Discourse over the said SDG need to factor in contrasting ideas such as industrial agriculture, food sovereignty, food insecurity in cities. Also, this goal needs to be understood beyond the commonly held interpretations which are empirically outmoded that food insecurity is majorly caused by unavailability of food and ecological management adversely impacts the yield volume (productionist approach). (34) Like other SDGs, zero hunger is universal in nature, albeit needs to be applied in accordance with the conditions and underlying information of different regions and member states. For instance, a case in point is malnutrition and food insecurity vis à vis the Caribbean and Latin America, where production of food very well goes beyond the demands of the population, however, inequitable distribution of healthy, balanced food continues to compound the food crisis. Furthermore, the significance of small-scale food producer needs to be acknowledged. They need to be empowered, helped with market information. (35) The use of big data and computation tools in this regard could not only help small scale producers survive but sustainably restructure agriculture, using deductive analysis, predictions about yield, weather patterns, market demand could make agriculture more efficient and greatly reduce food waste. Food systems enthusiast, and co-founder of “Family Dinner” Erin Baumgartner has successfully demonstrated it in New England collaborating with small local farmers. (36)
Farmers need to be made aware of “regenerative farming”, as it helps to improve the water retention ability and quality of the soil – soil has more micronutrients as it carries more carbon. It is by no means a new farming phenomenon, rather goes back to the 19th century, so this approach guides on how all solutions don’t come from use of technology, or having a future-oriented policy when it comes to improving agriculture productivity in a sustainable manner. Sam Trethewey who is a regenerative farming expert has put this into practice in Tasmania, Australia, and manifested how improving soil quality by locking carbon deep underground providing plants to develop a much more extensive and deeper network of roots, regenerative farming not only offers healthier yield but also sequesters carbon being emitted from other sources such as households/factories in the proximity of the farm. Carbon gets a bad name ignoring how humans are carbon-based life forms, so the key isn’t just to cut down on carbon, but to store or utilize it to the advantage of humanity. (37) In terms of Zero hunger, this approach can enable a more nutrient dense diet by either directly consuming regenerative farming plants or indirectly as livestock feeds on such plants.
Plant geneticist, Joanne Chory shared a revolutionary biological remedy to sustainable agriculture by genetically modifying seeds to produce more suberin which a stable form of carbon, acting like a storage system for carbon underground rather than being released in the atmosphere as plants decompose. This method has been extended to crop plants as well; suberin enriched soil holds more sulfur, phosphate, nitrogen and water, which will contribute to better yield, while slowing down climate change through carbon sequestration. Currently, loss of yield due to depleting carbon levels in the soil is making the goal of feeding the earth’s population daunting. (38) Even though target 12.3 (SDG-12 – “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”) lucidly entail the need to decrease food losses and food waste, employs the index of Global food loss as an indicator (12.3.1), both SDG-2 and SDG-12 could benefit from any measure or policy implemented in this regard. For instance, legislation could be introduced to bind restaurants not to throw access food (edible) away, rather distribute it amongst the needy on a daily basis, this even ropes in the private sector in the daunting quest to achieve Zero hunger.
Moreover, one way the issue of the disruption of supply chain can be solved through promoting “urban agriculture.” Vertical hydroponic farming techniques can be adopted which use much less space and the conditions can be controlled much more than a conventional farm; an abandoned, non-functional factory or a warehouse could be transformed into a vertical farm. Having source of food production close to consumers in the cities help make supply chains shorter and less prone to factors like unpredictable weather patterns (food shortages can be mitigated). Hydroponic farming is attributed with growing nutrient dense produce much more than traditional method. (39) There is also a need for a much more multi-disciplinary approach to Zero hunger, even factors like refugee crisis and political upheavals need to be factored in this debate. All recommendations made above are applicable to Pakistan.
In a 2019 speech, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres underscored a three-layer action approach to fulfill the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals. Firstly, it deals with action of a global nature, which works towards ensuring more innovative solutions, global leadership and generation of greater resources. Second calls for a locally defined action through which regulatory edifice of all tiers of the government is revamped by introducing transitional policies, developing institutions, earmarking budgets aligned with the SDGs. Lastly is the action concerning the people, arguably a game-changer if it materializes profoundly. Mobilization of people from all walks of the life especially the youth, entrepreneurs, academics, thought leaders, civil society – which with the help of the media, can act as a juggernaut of transformation – can catalyze the process of achieving sustainable development. Such a planet saving endeavor requires shared responsibility and action to reconfigure the bond between man and nature. Notwithstanding how the lives of people around the have gotten better in the last one or two decades – more people have access to healthcare, housing, education – the sharp inequalities which stick out like a sore thumb and climate volatility pose to reverse positive developments. Ergo the need to invest in the levers of sustainable development for all is felt more than ever before. At the heart of SDG proselytism should be the objective to prioritize the population most vulnerable, and marginalized, those who couldn’t reap the dividends of globalization, the furthest behind. (40)
*About the author: Muhammad Firas Shams is currently doing MPhil Public Policy from the Center of Public Policy & Governance at FCCU. He was formally associated with the think tank, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).
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