The fifth of a series of 12 dialogues on sustainable development was held on Thursday in Rawalpindi, 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, said a press release. “These dialogues bring the United Nations closer to the people and the local governments that we serve,” said Julien Harneis, UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan. “We are actively listening to their concerns and their ideas. They will work together, and with us, on accelerating progress to bridge inequalities and reduce poverty. We will share their suggestions with the Federal Government as we focus on returning to sustainable development,” he said. In Rawalpindi, the discussions focused on four topics chosen by the participants ahead of the event: women’s voice and participation, digital transformation, youth employment, and access to health services. Nearly 100 local leaders — women and men, including youth — participated together with senior Rawalpindi officials, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and other UN staff. The 12 dialogues are engaging 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).