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Still trying to emerge from the pandemic, countries’ progress on many of the SDGs has halted and backtracked due to Covid-19. The recent SDG Report 2021 does not fully reflect the impact of the global pandemic due to time lag and lack of timely data, which means that the individual performances might have further deteriorated with rising inequality and disparity; unemployment; and poverty.

The executive summary of the report highlights that the pandemic has been a setback for sustainable development everywhere, and for the first time since the adoption of SDGs in 2015, the global average SDG index score this year has declined from the previous year. The situation is much more aggravated for low income, developing countries.

A quick glance at the SDG report 2021 shows that the only goal among the 17 set by the UN that is on track or maintaining SDG achievement for Pakistan is Goal13: Climate Action. The dent in performance is also due to the adversities in pandemic hit world. While all goals have been jolted by COVID-19, efforts by the government in shape of stimulus packages, incentives, financing facilities etc. offered some support.

Overall, Pakistan’s score in 2021 is 1.5 percent higher than 2020, while in the East and South Asia region, its score has increased by 3 percent in 2021 versus 2020. A look at the SDG ranks show that Pakistan’s rank has improved 5 places, while that of India and Bangladesh has declined and remained static, respectively.

Pakistan has a very high spillover score of 99.7 percent, which means that a higher score causes more positive and fewer negative spillover effects along the three dimensions: environmental & social impacts embodied in trade, economy & finance, and security. This means that helping the country achieve better is also in global interest, and global facilitation to create fiscal space is instrumental in helping the country come back on the SDG track.

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