Symposium on 'Budget 2023-24 through the Lens of SDGs' Highlights Achievable Roadmap for Pakistan's Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs Research and Resource Centre (SRRC), Department of Economics, FJWU organized “First Annual Symposium on Budget 2023-24 through the Lens of SDGs” on 21 June 2023. The symposium aimed to discuss the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs) within the context of Pakistan's budget for the fiscal year 2023-24.

The symposium commenced with the recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by the opening remarks from Dr. Saima Hamid, the Vice Chancellor of FJWU. Dr. Hamid welcomed the esteemed guests and expressed gratitude for their participation in the symposium. Dr. Hamid emphasized the need to develop a realistic roadmap for localized sustainable development goals. She acknowledged the impact of internal and external factors, such as political, social, and economic instability, on the implementation of SDGs in Pakistan and worldwide.

The conveyer of the symposium, Prof. Dr. Bushra Yasmin, provided an overview of the SRRC and the Department of Economics, highlighting their goals and achievements over the past 25 years of academic excellence. She emphasized the role of the SRRC in organizing seminars, webinars, conferences, and symposiums in collaboration with national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations to educate and raise awareness the female youth about sustainable development goals.

The symposium featured Mr. Sakib Sherani as the Guest Speaker, who delivered the Fatima Jinnah Lecture. Mr. Sherani, a renowned expert in public policy and economic analysis, shed light on Pakistan's fiscal budget in relation to the SDGs. Mr. Sherani stated that our country is facing a situation of Poly-crisis comprising of challenges on multiple facets. He attributed the challenges to coordination failures, dismal fiscal framework, limited financial capacity, and political instability affecting economic stability in the country. He concluded his lecture with the discussion on the possible pathways to fiscal prudence and action.

It was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Mr. Haroon Sharif, former Minister of State and Chairman of Pakistan’s Board of Investment. The panelists included Dr. Rubina Athar, former Chairperson of the National Tariff Commission, Dr. Sajid Amin, Deputy Executive Director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), and Mr. Ali Kemal, Chief of SDGs at the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives.

The panelists discussed the importance of empowering institutions over individuals for sustainable development. They highlighted the need for collaborative efforts between the government, private sector, academia, and civil society to implement SDGs effectively. It was noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical events like the Ukraine war have impacted the capacity to invest in SDGs. The panelists emphasized the significance of policy reforms, particularly in education, gender equality, and social inclusion, to achieve sustainable development in Pakistan.

In conclusion, the symposium underlined the necessity of major reforms and identified critical areas for policy-making to support overall sustainable development, with a specific focus on SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and on SDG 4 (Quality Education). The symposium called for legal, financial, and social reforms to address challenges in these areas. Collaboration between public and private sectors, industry and academia, and federal and provincial governments was emphasized as crucial for SDG implementation. The symposium concluded with an interactive Q&A session and the presentation of souvenirs to the guests and a group photo.

The Symposium on 'Budget 2023-24 through the Lens of SDGs' provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities in aligning Pakistan's budget with sustainable development goals. It served as a platform to foster dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders for a more inclusive and sustainable future in the country.