Assessing Progress towards SDG 11 in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

Written by Maryam Habib and Dr. Muhammad Asim

Sustainable Development Goal 11 aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Achieving this goal requires significant efforts from governments and other stakeholders to improve urban infrastructure, access to basic services, and disaster preparedness. To assess the progress of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan towards achieving SDG 11, this study consults with the Sustainable Cities Index and the SDG Index. Additionally, the essay proposes some steps that the governments of these countries can take to improve their ranking in the respective indexes.

Sustainable Cities Index and SDG Index
According to the latest Sustainable Cities Index, Tehran, Karachi, and Kabul ranked 93rd out of 100 cities. While this index does not provide country-level rankings, it indicates that the sustainability of individual cities in these countries is a cause for concern. On the other hand, the latest SDG Index ranks Iran at 89th, Pakistan at 134th, and Afghanistan at 162nd out of 166 countries. These rankings show that these countries are lagging behind in achieving SDG 11.

Steps to Improve Ranking
To improve their ranking in the respective indexes, the governments of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan can take several steps. For example, they can invest in sustainable urban infrastructure, including public transportation, energy-efficient buildings, and green spaces. They can also implement policies to promote sustainable urban planning, reduce sprawl, and promote compact, walkable communities. Additionally, increasing access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation, and healthcare in urban areas, especially for marginalized communities, can help improve their ranking.

Encouraging citizen participation and engagement in decision-making processes related to urban development can help promote inclusivity and community ownership of urban development initiatives. Strengthening institutions and governance mechanisms to support sustainable urban development is also crucial. Furthermore, the tri-borderland region could serve as a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing among the three states to promote sustainable urban development. By working together, the region could develop common standards and policies for sustainable urban planning and infrastructure, and could also pool resources to invest in shared infrastructure such as transportation and energy systems.

Achieving SDG 11 requires sustained efforts from governments and other stakeholders. The rankings of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the Sustainable Cities Index and the SDG Index indicate the need for urgent action to improve the sustainability of urban areas in these countries. The proposed steps, including investment in sustainable infrastructure, promoting inclusive policies, and encouraging citizen participation, can help improve their ranking and move them closer towards achieving SDG 11. Collaborative efforts through the tri-borderland region could also provide a platform for sustainable urban development. However, it is crucial to ensure that the benefits of these initiatives are shared equitably among all communities, including marginalized groups. This would require a focus on inclusive policies and programs, as well as strong governance mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability.

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