SDG Tech Lab was launched at Information Technology University (ITU) in collaboration with UnitedNations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It was officiallyinaugurated on February 20th, 2019. The objective of the SDG Tech Lab is to conduct cutting edge research and development, and leverage Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), for the implementation and timely completion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan.
Sustainable Development Goals and their Implementation in Pakistan
In September 2015, national governments across the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” is anchored on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the agenda’s monitoring framework that captures universal aspirations across three dimensions of sustainable development:
There are 169 targets associated with the 17 SDGs which include ending all forms of poverty, universal provision of health and education, sustained and equitable growth and creating sustainable cities etc.
The Government of Pakistan was one of the earliest adopters of the SDGs Agenda and unanimously approved the 17 Goals in the National Assembly in February 2016.
To support localizing the universal 2030 SDGs Agenda in the context of Pakistan and creating an enabling environment for its implementation, the UNDP launched Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support for SDGs (MAPS). SDG Units were created at the Federal and Provincial levels to align plans, policies and resource allocation to the SDGs agenda to:
- Align the plans, policies and resource allocation to the SDGs agenda.
- Strengthen the monitoring and reporting of SDGs
- Finance flows increasingly aligned to the SDGs agenda
- Apply Innovative approaches to accelerate progress on priority SDGs
MOU between ITU and UNDP and the Idea of SDG Tech Lab
In order to support the implementation of the fourth output of the MAPS project (i.e. innovative approaches applied to accelerate progress on priority SDGs), the UNDP signed an MOU with the Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore. The main objective of this collaboration is to develop and test innovative ideas and tools that could leverage technology in the implementation of SDGs and undertake research on the use of Information and Communication Technologies in this regard. This MOU sowed the seeds for the creation of the SDG Tech Lab, which aims atusing Informationand Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the implementation of SDGs in Pakistan. The Lab usestechnology based solutions to solve various socio-economic problems in Pakistan, to facilitate the timely achievement of the SDGs.
Information Technology University (ITU)
Information Technology University (ITU) Lahore, a public sector university of the Government of Punjab, was established in 2012 in order to advance scholarship and innovation in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Engineering,Business, Humanities and Social Sciences. ITU focuses on cross-disciplinary applied research, cultivation of an entrepreneurial culture in teaching and research, maintaining close collaboration with the ICT industry and developing strong ties with various government and multilateral organizations. With its unique structure that combines the best features of both public and private sector universities, ITU aims to serve as a center for excellence in academia, research, entrepreneurship and innovation. The use of cross-disciplinary and innovative applied research to solve real-world problems is one of ITU’s main areas of focus. The nascent university already houses a number of researchcenters includingthe Center of Governance and Policy (CGP), Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL), Technology and Research in Emerging Networks and Distributed Systems (TRENDS) center, the Neighborhood for Emerging World Technologies (NEWT) center, the Scientometrics Lab, and the Business Analytics Lab. As a result, the SDG Tech Lab has access to resources across multiple disciplines, with an especially close collaboration between the Economics and Computer Science Departments. This interdisciplinary approach helps create connections to address the central challenges that impact society, economy and polity. Through this, the Lab will aid a better understanding of the unique role of humans in sustainable development, and the future of the planet.
Dr. Izza Aftab
Director- SDG Tech Lab
Dr. Izza Aftab has done her PhD in Economics from The New School of Social Research at The New School University on Fulbright Scholarship. Prior to that, Dr. Aftab did an MS in Public Policy from Beaconhouse National University. Dr. Aftab is an Assistant Professor and Head of Economics Department at ITU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has a focus on evidence based policy making using Big Data.
Murad Javed Khan
Deputy Director - SDG Tech Lab
Mr. Murad J. Khan is a U.S. qualified and experienced technology leader with over twenty years of varied technical and management experience in Information Technology (IT). He was previously Head of IT in a consulting engineering firm in Pakistan. In the past he has led teams and worked on software development projects for clients in many different industries including some of the largest airlines, banks and hotels in the United States. Murad holds a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).
Dr. Mohsen Ali
Principal Investigator (P.I.), SDG Tech Lab
Dr. Mohsen Ali is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science, ITU. He is co-founder of Intelligent Machines Lab at ITU and heads Computer Vision Research Group. He holds a doctoral degree from the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, the University of Florida, as a Fulbright Scholar. Previously he received his MSc and MS in Computer Science degrees from Punjab University and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) respectively.
Maha S. Kamal
Teaching Fellow/Core Team SDG Tech Lab
Ms. Maha S. Kamal is an international public policy specialist, with a focus on energy policy. She was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for a Masters in International Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. She also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Boston University in International Relations and Journalism. In the past, she has worked on governance, water and energy security at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). She has written on policy issues in Dawn, The News, South Asia Magazine, Express Tribune etc.
Teaching Fellow/Core Team SDG Tech Lab
Ms. Amna Anwar is a Masters graduate in Globalisation and Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She graduated with BSc. Honors with a major in Political Science. Before ITU, she resided in Malaysia where she worked for UNHCR project for Somalian refugees. In the past, she was a visiting faculty member at the Lahore School of Economics where she taught the course “International Political Economy”. Her current research focuses on global governance of food systems through a value chain analysis.
An economist at heart and a tech enthusiast, Ms. Sadaf Akbar has done her MPhil in Applied Economics from Forman Christian College and worked as a Digital Account Manager with a reputed software house, Fiverivers Tech for two years. She is currently working on the project of Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program with the SDG Tech Lab.
Noor Ul Islam
Ms. Noor Ul Islam is a Masters graduate in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences. Prior to this, she did her BS (Hons) in Economics from Forman Christian College. Her Master’s thesis focused on Industrialization and Education and she has the work experience of working as a Research Assistant at Lahore University of Management Sciences. Currently she is working on the Slums Mapping Project at SDG Tech Lab.
Muhammad Fasi Ur Rehman
Research Associate (Slums Mapping Project)
Mr. Fasi Ur Rehman did his Bachelors in GeoInformatics Engineering from Institute of Geographical Information System, NUST. Currently a Post Grad Student of Data Science at Information Technology University, he is working as a Research Associate for Slums Mapping Project at SDG Tech Lab.