How seriously are we taking our Sustainable Development Goals? Recently, during a moot organized by Sungi Development Foundations in Lahore with civil society members, deliberations were made on ways to mobilize contacts and resources towards fulfilling the goals, and to remind the state of the commitments it made to fulfilling SDGs. To talk about Sustainable Development Goals, one needs to understand that they were devised and introduced to address the issues that resulted in not meeting the Millennium Development Goals.Pakistan became its signatory and committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals interlinked with health, environment, education and infrastructure development. Through this, Pakistan also aims to ensure six basic SDG essentials on dignity, people, prosperity, planet, justice and partnerships. It also adopted the goals for the National Development Agenda in the Parliament and under its Ministry for Planning, Development and Reforms. The SDG Support Units at provincial levels have been formed to further localize the development issues and involve the district and local bodies to operationalize and integrate the policies towards this end. It is a positive development, given the scenario that unlike Millennium Development Goals, SDGs are being owned by all local stakeholders, paving a very positive path for better services at grassroots level. It is also heartening to see the enthusiasm of the local bodies in declaring their commitment to the SDGs, on March 2017 during the Local Governments Summit organized by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms in Islamabad. However, while the groundwork on SDGs is taking a transformative shape in Pakistan, many challenges lay ahead now that the elections have taken place and a new government is in the process of formation. During this meeting, the civil society organizations shared their experiences on working on SDG Goal 16, which is crucial for ensuring peace, justice and strong institutions, by stressing on how the issues of neglected people and minorities, accountability of institutions, their transparency, their local service delivery and inclusive participation in the decision making processes can be addressed and highlighted.There is also a concern that with a new government coming into action, there might be policy shifts away from local governments. However, there is also a consensus among the civil society that the new democratic space should be used to its optimal level to keep on representing the issues to the incoming government, by using all available forums of communication with them. However, genuine concerns about the way the civil society organizations are being discouraged or stigmatized at the state level remain, which is unfair to their committed and dedicated work on social development. Among other apprehensions are the shrinking spaces of social work, which negatively influence the public accountability of institutions. The local governments along with the civil society want new innovative ways which must be adopted to make their work more sustainable and self-reliant.In light of the political scenario, pre-poll apprehensions and the contested results, work is likely to get affected if people start distrusting the institutions in terms of delivering on their committed SDG goals. It is here the responsibilities of the government and civil society grow, not only in helping people get educated about accountability issues, but also in reclaiming their trust and confidence in the democratic processes. The state has its duty and commitments towards its people and is accountable for it as the parliament itself adopted SDG’s as a National Development Agenda in 2016 and is liable to answer about its progress thus far. The intent the previous government had expressed is commendable, but it needs to be seen how consistent the new government remains towards its continuation with improved strategies. The state should also realize that the role of the civil society is important in assisting the government in getting exposure for a number of issues that remain unaddressed otherwise. Their assistance is also necessary to improve its steps towards making basic services to people more accessible, accountable and inclusive. There are many opportunities for the government to explore further into governance by giving more discretionary roles to the district and local bodies in terms of budget making for education and health, fair distribution of resources, improving national database systems like NADRA, localization of issues and making non-discriminatory policies on social welfare. There is also a considerable amount of work that needs to be done to cater to the neglected and the ignored sections of populations, especially in ensuring their participation in a democratic set-up.The writer is working on SDG’s for Sungi Development FoundationPublished in Daily Times, August 11th 2018.