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June 14, 2018

UNDP, ITU agree to develop innovative ideas, tools


June 14, 2018

Lahore: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Information Technology University (ITU) Punjab signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), a cooperation agreement here on Wednesday to jointly gauge Pakistan’s attainting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their implementation.

The MoU formalises the mutual interaction and strengthens the existing relationship between the UNDP and ITU at the strategic and working level, focusing on implementation of SDGs and leveraging technology to develop innovative ideas and tools.

This mutual cooperation may entail setting up a “SDG-Tech Lab” as well as establishing a “SDG Research Unit” at ITU. UNDP and ITU may also jointly explore the opportunity to mobilise external funding with regards to the objective of this MoU and further develop information sharing.

UNDP and ITU in this MoU agreed to develop and implement scalable tools that could increase citizen engagement and participation in public decision making and overall governance. The objective is to increase citizen and state interaction, implement scalable tools to improve access to basic services including health, education, water, transportation, etc. They want to work towards enhancing access to public services through un-conventional, efficient and economical tools and explore the use of big and open data for monitoring and reporting of selected SDG indicators. Finally, they want to provide alternative means for assessing progress on SDGs and informing government policies; and undertake any research in the context of exploring and employing the nexus between technology and SDG.

Ignacio Artaza, country Director at UNDP, stressed data generation using ITU and PITB’s expertise. Punjab has conducted several policy innovations that could be replicated effectively across other provinces in Pakistan to boost interesting ideas and synergies, he said. He lauded the efforts and commitment of Dr Akmal Hussain, Dean of School of Social Sciences (SHSS) at ITU, towards achieving SDGs.

On this occasion Dr Umar Saif, the founding Vice Chancellor of ITU, said: “Our team of academics and policymakers would do wonders for Pakistan through this collaboration. Our projects, to name a few, that involve e-Vaccs and satellite imagery to better predict crop yield are some examples of how we inform policy with evidence.”

Our work made us pioneers in the field of ICTD. Punjab’s success at phenomenally increasing vaccine coverage rate has garnered appreciation globally including the Gates Foundation. Hosting this collaboration at SHSS testifies to the importance we attach to well thought-out and effective policy that has a huge human impact, he said.

UNDP, a subsidiary organ of the United Nations, is an intergovernmental organisation established by its Member States and Information Technology University (ITU) is a public university of Punjab government. The MoU between both these organisations was signed by Ignacio Artaza and Dr Umar Saif. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Registrar (ITU), Zaheer Sarwar, Dean of SHSS, Dr Akmal Hussain, and Head of the Economics Department, Dr Izza Aftab.

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