Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 to act as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. It is comprised of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each is an indiscriminate and urgent call to action for all countries. Goal 16 focuses on peace, justice and strong institution:

Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

One of the targets under Goal 16 is directly related to the right to access information held by public authorities:

Target 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms under national legislation and international agreements

This target recognizes the crucial role access to information plays in building strong, accountable institutions and ensuring government transparency. It also highlights the importance of the free circulation of information in society, allowing people to make more informed democratic choices and hold
their governments to account. To assess whether this target is met, the SDG process uses the following indicator:

Indicator 16.10.2: Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information

SDG Indicator 16.10.2 calls on states to adopt and implement RTI laws. This Methodology is a reliable and accepted system for measuring state progress in achieving the called for in Indicator 16.10.2.

Development & Pilot

The RTI-Evaluation methodology was developed in part through a two-year pilot project in the Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab co-funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s Support to Local Governance Programme and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The CLD identified Pakistan as the prime jurisdiction in which to develop this Methodology. In 2002, Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to adopt an RTI law. However, the law was feeble and saw limited use by citizens. In 2013, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province initiated a renewal of Pakistan’s RTI movement as part of its Good Governance Legislative Framework. This involved adopting what was, at the time, the most robust RTI law globally (the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act, 2013), appointing an independent oversight body, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information
Commission (KP RTIC), and taking other steps to implement the law. Civil society and the media, for their part, responded by engaging heavily with the new law, making requests, appealing refusals, and using the right to promote government accountability and inform citizens. Azmat Hanif Orakzai,
the former Chief Information Commissioner of the KP RTIC, has described it as “breaking the sound barrier.”

The reforms reversed a long-standing culture of secrecy in the Pakistani government that went back to the British colonial period and forged a new relationship between the government and its people, one based on trust built through transparency and citizen engagement in public decision-making.
Punjab province quickly followed suit. By 2019, all jurisdictions in Pakistan except Baluchistan had adopted strong RTI laws.

This Methodology was prepared through an iterative process involving several drafts and extensive consultations. It is based on: studies of both Pakistani and international RTI laws; a review of attempts by other actors to develop RTI implementation assessment methodologies; extensive consultations with local stakeholders in Pakistan, including from government, from oversight bodies (information commissions), from civil society, from the media and academia; and consultations with international RTI experts.