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Civil society role a must to better achieve SDGs

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The speakers at an event on Friday stressed on meaningful spaces and a conducive environment for civil society organizations to strengthen their collaborative role in the achievement of the global agenda of development.

They shared while speaking in a National Conference conducted by Blue Veins to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and restrictive environment towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a special focus on SDG 5 (gender equality).

The event was carried out under the strict COVID SOPs and government regulations and was well attended with limited participation of CSO representatives, lawyers, the business community, Line departments, and Human Rights Institutions.

The participants discussed the key findings and recommendations of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the importance of using this work.

While addressing the conference, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), said “By adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Pakistani government re-established a new call for action to change the country with a transformative vision for development.”

He added that civil society must be facilitated by the government to better achieve SDG and they must be able to exercise the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda”.

Qamar Naseem, Program Coordinator Blue Veins, highlighted how the challenges and restrictive spaces caused by the COVID-19 have been jeopardizing the role of CSOs in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

“There is a need to recognize the intrinsic value of civil society and creating meaningful and institutionalized spaces in the implementation of Agenda, where their diverse and pluralistic voices can be heard and valued in contributing to the achievement of all of the Goals”. He added

Sayed Raza Ali of Peace & Justice Network (PJN) emphasized that “Government and the CSO must recognize the linkages between the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The participants of the conference agreed that the pandemic has highlighted the work that is still to be done in the journey to gender equality. Solutions explored included a conducive environment for NGOs and other civil society included job security, digital transformation, women in peacebuilding roles, access to health services, and intergenerational co-leadership.

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