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If you don't, then who would lead Pakistan? The country needs to be saved from the creeping threats of environmental degradation, increasing population, poverty and climate vulnerabilities. Some regions are in the grip of deepening water insecurity, plagued by water hazards, inequity and scarcity. With sprawling urbanization and almost 60 percent of the population below the age of 20, we are confronted with fundamental governance challenges in health, nutrition, education, poverty reduction, shrinking livelihood options, and the political and economic rights of women, children and minorities. As concerned citizens and development practitioners, we share many of these concerns and want to work together with you.

Fortunately, many things are changing for the better: The economic growth rate has picked up in 2017 and the energy production gap has narrowed substantially. CPEC has begun to accelerate development in infrastructure, industry, and trade. Provincial governments are developing their own policies and action plans for climate change, water resource management, afforestation, disaster management, and women's empowerment. Several provincial Annual Development Plans are devoting increased allocations to the social sector. There is indeed a growing political will – and increasing parliamentary support - for SDG implementation. The private sector is showing increased interest and investments in youth skill development, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and climate-smart agricultural development. For the first time in the country's history, political parties are competing for media and voter attention towards their 'performance' in order to obtain renewed mandates, as the country gets closer to the elections.

2017 was a good year for LEAD: We expanded our research, capacity-building and policy related work with several federal ministries and provincial line departments. We, for example, supported NDMA to design and develop a risk transfer and insurance fund; catalyzed the Sindh government to develop heat management plans for Karachi; facilitated city of Faisalabad to plan water supply on cost recovery basis. We also collaborated with the governments in KP, Punjab and Sindh to develop their climate change policies and action plans, and also organized specialized training programs for the senior officials of P&D departments in Punjab and Sindh on embedding climate change and SDG targets in their project planning cycles. We worked with the private sector in Sialkot to develop alternative energy options. We were also fortunate to engage with scores of under privileged districts in Punjab and Sindh to develop their local adaptation, resilience, or disaster preparedness plans.

We are starting 2018 with a new, deeper, resolve: Our collaboration with universities and scientific institutions on governance and management of trans-boundary water resources will gain momentum during the year ahead, as would our engagement on social sector concerns such as health, education, nutrition, particularly for young girls and women. We will forge new partnerships with national, regional, and international institutions for the implementation of Paris Agreement, Sendai framework and SDGs targets. Despite challenges, we will continue to grow in our impact, focus, and relevance. We aspire to expand policy options for decision-makers, and our engagement will be supported by our experience in research, capacity-building and knowledge management skills.

We are reaching out to you to join hands with us in our endeavors. We are in this together. As our agendas and aspirations coincide, we invite you to join hands with us to lead Pakistan towards a better future, a more tolerant, equal, and resilent Pakistan.

Ali Tauqeer Sheikh