ISLAMABAD/NEW YORK - Minister for Planning, Development and Special initiatives Prof Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday called upon the United Nations to champion the issue of Ukraine-Russia war to protect the developing countries including Pakistan, from extreme shocks of supply chains, causing delays in achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He was sharing Pakistan story of dealing with recovery from economic and social damages of Covid-19 and building back better from the coronavirus disease while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the three days Ministerial UN high level political forum HLPF 2022 which is taking place at UN headquarters in New York. The forum is taking place under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council of the UN. The high-level segment of the Council will conclude with a final day on Monday, 18 July 2022.

The minister said the countries like Pakistan were now under heavy pressure of these increased commodity prices which also resulted in creating financial burden on private sector.

“There is a need at UN level to champion this issue that countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are facing extreme economic situation due to the doubling and tripling of the commodity prices in the international markets,” the minister said while speaking at the virtual event. Therefore, he said the government was finding it difficult with the private sector to have extra resources for the programmes that they were doing for SDGs.

Ahsan Iqbal stressed the need for some kind of relief for such developing countries to enable the private sector in contributing towards SDGs.

He said immediately after launch of SDGs in 2015, Pakistan Parliament adopted the international SDGs as its national development goals.

“We tried to give ownership to this agenda from the very beginning. This is not a global agenda; this is our own national agenda,” he added.

He said Pakistan was among the top 10 vulnerable countries as far as climate change was concerned and to cope with this issue, the government was very actively working.

“We have also partnered with the private sector to create more jobs in the business because we are very young country and around two third of the population is very young.”

The minister informed that the government is also trying to work very closely with private sector to provide maximum jobs to the youth.

“We offer internship programmes to the young graduates and under graduates so that their employability becomes easier and they get more jobs,” he added.

The minister added that the government had also started major advocacy programme with the private sector particular to sensitise small and medium size business towards the benefits of adopting SDGs practices.

That will give us much broader penetration in the private sector because we found that big businesses were sensitive, they had greater awareness, and they were partnering with us but amongst small and medium enterprise there was knowledge gap. “So through our own advocacy we are trying to bridge the gap and get them on board,” he maintained.

He said during last three years, the countries like Pakistan suffered greatly from Covid-19 which impacted the entire sectors of businesses.

And now in the post Covid period, we are badly hit by the supply chain shocks and this situation also triggered due to the Ukraine war, minister said.