CPEC to foster achievement of SDGs in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The contribution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the UN 2030 Agenda and Pakistan’s main objectives envisioned under the internationally recognized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have lots of commonalities, and the two sets of goals complement each other in various ways.
The mission, vision, and key objectives of the CPEC are poverty alleviation, economic prosperity, enhanced regional connectivity, and increased trade and investment opportunities. In the same way, the key goals of the UN 2030 Agenda are to end all forms of global poverty and food insecurity, and enable everyone to have access to education, health, clean drinking water, and decent job opportunities.
Talking to WealthPK, Dr Zafar Mahmood, Professor at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad, said increased trade and connectivity will, directly and indirectly, contribute to the accomplishment of many of these goals and objectives. The three main components of the CPEC are self-sufficiency in energy, expansion, and upgrading of communication infrastructure.
“The process of industrialization will enable the country to make huge strides towards three SDGs, namely SDG7 (ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all), SDG8 (promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all), and SDG9 (building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation),” he said.
“If successfully implemented, CPEC is expected to resolve the chronic issue of energy shortfall, after which the Pakistani people will have access to reliable, sustainable, and modern means of energy,” he said.
Dr Abdul Jalil, a prominent economist and ex-executive director at CPEC, told WealthPK that apart from contributing to three SDGs directly, CPEC is likely to help in achieving various other SDGs indirectly.
For example, SDG1 aims to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”, while poverty alleviation is one of the key objectives of CPEC.
“CPEC is expected to create about 2 million direct and indirect employment opportunities in Pakistan. It means about 2 million families will have better means of livelihood and subsequently achieve food security (SDG2), access to better health services (SDG3), quality education (SDG4), and clean water and sanitation (SDG6),” he pointed out.
Adnan Khan, a Socio-Economic Development Specialist at CPEC Authority, said a person with a decent job is most likely to spend more on the health and education of his or her family.
“Hence, in one way or another, the successful completion of CPEC is likely to contribute to the accomplishment of various SDGs in Pakistan,” he stated.
Adnan Khan cited another example of CPEC’s potential role in the attainment of the SDGs through its indirect contribution to SDG15, which aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss”.
Dr Khalid Mahmood, a senior researcher at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Islamabad, said while talking to WealthPK that CPEC offers a unique opportunity for convergence, harmonization, and division of labour to a host of bilateral and multilateral actors to effectively implement SDG17, which entails a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development with the participation of all countries, stakeholders, and people.
“As the CPEC could help solve numerous development issues in Pakistan, particularly the issues related to infrastructure, trade and commerce, energy shortage, unemployment, and overall economic growth and development, it has significant potential for other actors and investors to get involved in the development of Pakistan,” Dr Khalid commented.
He said there is a great opportunity to achieve economic prosperity and make progress on the SDGs by utilizing the potential of CPEC.