LAHORE:14 June: A tech lab and a research unit will be jointly established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Information Technology University (ITU) under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Wednesday. Aimed at gauging Pakistan’s progress in attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the MoU was signed by UNDP Country Director Ignacio Artaza and ITU acting vice chancellor Dr Umar Saif. The MoU focuses on the implementation of SDGs, while also leveraging technology to develop innovative ideas and tools. This mutual cooperation will entail setting up a tech lab and establishing a research unit at ITU. UNDP and ITU will jointly explore the opportunity to mobilise external funding with regards to the MoU. China, UNDP sign $4m agreement to help FATA, Balochistan “UNDP and ITU have agreed to develop and implement scalable tools that can increase citizen engagement and participation in public decision making and overall governance,” stated a press release. The objective is to increase citizen and state interaction, while also implementing scalable tools to improve access to basic services including health, education, water and transportation, it added. To work towards enhancing access to public services through unconventional, efficient and economical tools and explore the use of big and open data for monitoring and reporting of selected SDG indicators, the statement read. UNDP Country Director Ignacio Artaza stressed on data generation using ITU and the Punjab Information Technology Board’s expertise. He said that Punjab had conducted several policy innovations that can be replicated effectively across other provinces in Pakistan. “Our team of academics and policy makers will do wonders for Pakistan through this collaboration. Our projects involving e-Vaccs and satellite imagery to better predict crop yield are an example of how we inform policy with evidence,” said ITU acting Vice Chancellor Dr Umar Saif. Our work has made us pioneers in the field of information and communication technologies for development. Hosting this collaboration testifies to the importance we attach to well thought-out and effective policy that has a huge human impact, he added. Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2018.