PTI-led government’s development agenda and concrete steps to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change have been appreciated by the United Nations Development Programme.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan, Resident Representative of UNDP in Pakistan Knut Ostby said in recent years Pakistan has picked up the global climate change agenda and is working on a number of projects to curtail the ill effects of carbon emissions. Pointing towards the success of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, he said it would play an important role in addressing climate change issues.
Knut Ostby said UNDP has been working in Pakistan for the last many decades for human development but since 2015, focus of its work is on sustainable development goals. He said Pakistan was one of the pioneering countries that brought these seventeen global goals as national goals. He said Pakistan has great potential in terms of people, land, natural resources, and infrastructure to address a number of development challenges.
The Resident Representative of the UNDP said Pakistan is doing many good things for development and growth. He said growth is important but it has only impact on people if it is inclusive, creates jobs and also takes care of climate change concerns.
Praising the Kamyab Jawan Program of the incumbent government, he said we are supporting this program in order to bring youth forward to become part of the solution of future challenges. He said good education, employment as well as empowerment need to be provided to people. He said youth need to have quality education as well as opportunity for development so that they become driver of growth. Knut Ostby said Pakistan can devise new policies and opportunities, as well as space, to harness the potential of youth. He said UNDP is already collaborating with Pakistan through its programmes that support entrepreneur initiatives and skills training of youth.
Replying to a question, he said one of these programmes is conducting boot camps to give tactical training to youth in a number of skills. He said UNDP has Youth Empowerment Programme funded by itself as well as some outside donors.
The Resident Representative of the UNDP told the interviewer that there is a risk if we do not address the needs and empowerment of youth. If large number of youth is unemployed and disenfranchised, it becomes a risk for any country. Similarly, he said, women comprise half of the population of Pakistan and they have a great potential to take part in national development in economic and political spheres. He said it is important to invest in women in two different ways. He said women need to be included and integrated in development and political processes on equal footings. There is also a need to create specific programmes for women to help them bring into mainstream on the basis of gender equality. He said government of Pakistan has been taking good steps in uplifting the womenfolk. Knut Ostby said UNDP has programmes to help increase the number of women who cast their votes during elections. There are always new ideas and other ways of taking steps to enhance the participation of women in electoral process. He said education is the key to bringing women onboard in a number of areas. He said various UN agencies apart from UNDP can help the government of Pakistan in increasing educational opportunities for women by investing in various programmes.
Appreciating the citizen registration through NADRA, he said many developing countries lack this development and it is helpful in a number of ways for Pakistan. This can ensure equal chances for boys and girls in different fields.
Pointing towards UNDP collaboration with Pakistan in the health sector, he said main work of UNDP is in two areas. One is socio economic impacts of Covid-19 and provision of essential medical supplies. Second area of collaboration with Pakistan is prevention of HIV/AIDS in the country.
Hailing the steps taken by government of Pakistan in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, he said Ehsaas response is very impressive in terms of providing cash support to people. Similar programmes are also needed on targeted activity to help people not falling into poverty trap. The UNDP official said we are also working with Ehsaas programme in helping them in some technical aspects. On provision of clean drinking water to people, the resident representative of the UNDP said the organization has a small program in collaboration with a private soft drink company to provide clean water to people in some areas of Pakistan. He said without clean water, health issues can emerge and push the people towards poverty.