Business as usual should be replaced by Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Development

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Business as usual should be replaced by Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Development

By Ms. Fahmida Iqbal Khan, Community Mobilization and Networking Advisor, UNAIDS Country Office for Pakistan & Afghanistan

Today when am penning down this article, it gives me panic attacks that we are left with only 1.53 years to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Government of Pakistan has adopted 16 targets and 41 indicators. Time series data is available for only 34 indicators and it reveals that country is on track to achieve the targets on 11 indicators, whereas its progress on 23 indicators is o­ff track. The recently held National Parliamentary Conference on MDGs at least gives a hope that accelerated actions will be taken by legislators and constituents holder to help the country in this regard. If someone looks at province wise data, one can see that there is no data for MDG6 that highlights to combat HIV, TB and Malaria. But more needs to be done at various levels. Development practitioners, stakeholders need to analyze that what went wrong in these entire 13 years that country is unable to achieve targets and even produce the accurate data. The whole development paradigm shift is required to have transformative thinking and framework to be applied in order to have sustainable development. Out of usual mental blocks is dire need of time to have critical approach towards sustainable development to avoid same situation after next 15 years by 2030.

It reminds me of Peter M. Senge’s model where system thinking approach is required to see inter-relationships that underlie complex situations and interactions rather than simplistic linear cause-effect chains. It enables to unravel the often hidden subtleties, influences, leverage points and intended/unintended consequences of change plans and programs and leads to deeper, more complete awareness of the interconnections behind changing any system. Question is what have we learned from MDGs till date? How we can have mutual decision making based on consensus rather top bottom or bottom up approach? Development sector needs to work more closely with private & corporate sector amid Corporate Social Responsibility. We can understand that there has been very many unforeseen events including disasters, conflicts, displacements etc. occur during this course of time that disrupts the development world to achieve and make dents, but if we really like to bring changes in the lives of poor people, we really need to be prepared beforehand as effective planning can safeguards nations from big future losses. What we will promise to our future generation?

This country needs to come out of development assistance syndrome to engage in more compact oriented actions which can show results and change. Inequality in access to services needs to be examined in such a way that how to decrease this gap and how more poor people can access treatment, care and support services rather getting into dependency syndrome. What are those bottleneck that can help a man or women living in far flung remote areas to have access to safe drinking clean water, have health related information, access to education, employment etc. Am just requesting readers, don’t you think that we have been habitual to look at things the way these are and what new innovative approach have we brought in to bring the change in whole development world. Why corporate sector is so vibrant? Because they do lot of research to see the demand and supply side but in development sector, we are often missing research and development link that can help us streamline our efforts to meet the targets.

Indigenous knowledge plays a pivotal role in sustainable development. We may have state of the art western models of development, reaping excellent results but unless these models are contextualize to the local needs of people living in remote areas, we cannot ensure sustainable development. Inclusive and participatory approach needs to be followed in letters and spirit. Development practitioners &  partners, and government needs to have a real time analysis that how much money  has been poured into development sector since 2000 and what results did it reap? We really need to understand that without considering local traditions, culture and social determinants, change cannot be brought into lives of common people.


No doubt that MDG triggered a global vision and so is the case with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but what needs to be done is having action at local, national and global levels on the deeply entwined health, education, economic, social and environmental challenges that confront the next generation. One thing that development practitioners need to reinforce is that unless we have health nation, we can never prosper in future. We need to make early investments in all those disease on which Pakistan is at least on track specifically HIV and AIDS in post devolution scenario. The post-2015 agenda should include a commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 (by using technological aspects and research) provisionally defined as reducing new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths to 10% of 2010 levels such that AIDS no longer represents a major threat to any population or country. Human rights based approach should be integral to all health issues. Inclusive accountability mechanisms should be strengthened to enable broad participation and ownership in implementing and monitoring the post-2015 agenda. Ending AIDS will benefit from and serve as a catalyst for achieving a shared vision of social, economic and environmental justice. The AIDS epidemic’s interacts with poverty, conflicts, marginalization, exclusion, culture, law, gender dynamics, religion, unemployment, taboos and more has demanded that the response directly confront the political and social determinants of people’s risk-taking behaviors and vulnerability to HIV. This whole approach needs to have multi-sectoral approach rather than just health only. Business as usual is no longer an option for sustainable development.