Following on from the highly attended press event held last year, a validation meeting of experts working on the national State of Pakistani Cities report was held by UN-Habitat in Islamabad today to mark the culmination of provincial consultative meetings held throughout the country. Data for the State of Pakistan’s Cities Report has been compiled with full support from all the provinces of the country and they have expressed their intention to produce the State of Provincial Cities Reports as well. In addition, the consultations have reaffirmed the support of all Provinces for increased public participation and for their plans to take greater account of environmental concerns and be more inclusive particularly in addressing the needs of women, youth and the disabled. Spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) with technical assistance of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and funded by the Government of Australia, the report will support planners, administrators, and decision makers by provision of information to help them design effective urban solutions without leaving out vital segments of urban society.

Mr. Syed Abu Akif, Secretary for Ministry of Climate Change in his keynote message highlighted that “Urbanization is one of the key challenges faced by Pakistan today, but it also offers greater opportunities which can be tapped through calculated measures. However, insufficient knowledge of the urban dynamics is resulting in lack of timely service delivery, resource allocation, and urban solutions by cities’ authorities. To tackle this issue, the Government of Pakistan is spearheading the development of the State of Pakistan Cities’ Report, with support from all the provinces, to present a well-informed analysis of the state of urbanization across Pakistan comprising of economic alongside social, demographic, political and cultural aspects. This data will be vital for planners, policy makers and legislators in responding to the urbanization challenge.”

The validation meeting brought forward interesting findings presented in the provincial meetings. It highlighted that with the exception of Quetta where joint and extended families still prevail, the average household size has decreased in all the other cities, suggesting a trend towards smaller families. Another trend that emerged was that women’s participation rate in the labour force in all ten cities has increased.  Moreover, those unable to find jobs in rural areas and those looking for better opportunities continue to be accommodated in the cities in increasing numbers.  It is not only the existing cities that are growing but more settlements are becoming urbanised, particularly along the transport routes emanating from the cities. It was hence validated that for cities to be able to perform as engines of growth, more emphasis will have to be put on enabling strategies that provide better housing, infrastructure, and access to finance.

The State of Pakistan Cities Report will provide urban information and updated data on first level major cities of Pakistan, establish appropriate key urban indicators and baselines, analyse development trends and challenges and present potentials for investment and growth. It will build the capacity of relevant stakeholders for evidence-based decision making and monitoring in urban sector. The report will have an extensive policy impact created at city, provincial, and national levels particularly in relation to urban service delivery, land and housing, role of cities in economic development, including their potential growth capacities and challenges, and will support the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, as well as the New Urban Agenda.