The first of a series of 12 dialogues on sustainable development was held in Bahawalpur, by the United Nations and the district administration. In total, more than 1,000 local leaders living in 12 major cities across six provinces and territories will discuss the development challenges which they face, and how they impede economic and social progress in their districts. The dialogues will be held in the different languages spoken across Pakistan in the coming weeks. “These dialogues will help United Nations agencies better understand which development issues local leaders see as their priorities outside of the federal and provincial capitals,” said Julien Harneis, UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan. “We are actively listening to their concerns and to their ideas for bringing about effective progress in their communities. They are telling us how they would like to work with us on accelerating progress to bridge inequalities and reduce poverty. We will share their ideas with the Government as we focus on returning to sustainable development.” In Bahawalpur, the discussions focused on four topics chosen by the participants ahead of the event: access to basic social services with a focus on education and water, sanitation and hygiene; youth employment and skilling; and how to progress towards inclusive, accountable and efficient governance. Nearly 100 local leaders — women and men, including youth — participated together with senior Bahawalpur officials, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and other UN staff. The 12 dialogues will engage local leaders around development issues such as access to basic social services; gender equality and women’s empowerment; climate change; sustainable, inclusive economic growth and decent work; and governance. All are key to Pakistan’s progress towards the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The dialogues will help inform discussions ahead of the global SDG Summit which the UN is organizing to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, halfway of the 2030 deadline. The Government of Pakistan will participate in the event in New York on 18 and 19 September 2023. The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, are 17 objectives designed to help bring about peace and prosperity for people all over the world. They are an urgent call for action by all countries to work together towards ending poverty while improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth and tackling climate change.