Strengthening CSOs Capacity on Sustainable Development Goal 16

Date: 24 June 2021

Venue: On-Line

Summary: Transparency International Pakistan has successfully conducted a Webinar on “Strengthening CSOs Capacity on Sustainable Development Goal 16”

After that Mr. Kashif Ali, Program Manager – TI Pakistan, gave a presentation on the “Role of CSOs in the implementation of SDG 16”. He explained that civil society groups strongly advocated for an ambitious and holistic agenda covering a wide set of objectives across social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Civil Society assumed a basic role leading the way to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, sufficiently exhibiting its capacity to work across all different sectors. The role of CSOs is now essential for the execution of this Agenda. Mr. Kashif further explained that Civil Society in Pakistan is very vibrant and can take on a variety of functions in the execution process. They can spur government action through persistent advocacy and act as watchdogs holding governments accountable to their commitments. He also presented the findings from TI Pakistan CSO Parallel report 2020 on Sustainable Development Goal 16.

After that Mr. Ashfaque Ahmed, Project Coordinator – TI Pakistan gave a detailed presentation on the Progress towards SDG 16.10 which is “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedom”. Mr. Ashfaque described the evolution of RTI laws in Pakistan in a chronological order. Later, he discussed the findings of TI Pakistan report which evaluated Sindh RTI law and the status of the implementation of proactive disclosure in the province. He proposed and discussed recommendations for effective implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan.

After that, Mr. Raza Ali, Executive Director Peace & Justice Network, talked about “Evaluating SDG 16 Implementation Post-Pandemic Civil Society Advocacy Strategy – Lessons Learned”. Mr. Raza said that the pandemic impacted the progress of every target in SDG 16. However, the situation has also brought in an opportunity for civil society for doing more coordinated and integrated efforts. He identified areas for CSO engagement such as budget advocacy, advocacy for legislative and policy gaps, advocacy for setting up and strengthening national and provincial human rights institutions and commission in Pakistan. Mr. Raza highlighted the importance of Big Data which can improve decision making and cost cutting. He said CSOs have already been utilizing government data effectively, and the reliability of the reports based on such data has been increased. The pandemic opens the door to new possibilities, where equity and justice are at the center of recovery.

Towards the end, the webinar was open for general discussion in which participants including Mr. Kashif Siddique from CARD Foundation and Mr. Anwar Mehar from NARI Foundation shared their views as how civil society can collaborate and work for the implementation of SDG targets. One of the participants Mr. Haider Ali discussed the importance of working at grass roots level. He said that involvement of civil society should not be of a merely informal nature. Civil society should have formal roles, such as through formal consultations on government implementation plans and measures.

In the end, the participant praised TI Pakistan efforts for such an interactive and informative session, and requested that these interactive sessions should be held frequently.