This month, Ministers from countries across the globe will gather in New York for the 69th General Assembly. One of their top priorities will be to take forward discussions on a universal set of Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. These goals, which will be agreed next September in the UN, will become the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs rallied global efforts to tackle extreme poverty when they were agreed in 2000. A great deal has been achieved since: extreme poverty has been cut by half in just ten years – an enormous achievement. Over two billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water. Remarkable gains have been made in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis and the target to reduce hunger is within reach.

Yet still, nearly fifteen years later, too few children are able to go to school, too few people have enough to eat, too few have access to the basic services of water, sanitation and health care. This is not acceptable and we need to change this. To make this change, the international community is coming together to agree new goals. The new goals must ensure that extreme poverty is ended by 2030, they must safeguard our planet, and ensure that we address the root causes of poverty to ensure that no-one is left behind.

Pakistan is facing many of these development challenges: 12 million children are still not in school. Nearly half of Pakistan’s young children show signs of malnutrition. The country’s 182 million population is expected to increase by half again by 2050.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan launched the Global Human Development Report 2014 last week, which stresses on sustaining progress by reducing vulnerability and building resilience. The report can help inform the debate about how best to build Pakistan’s resilience, strengthen the way the State serves its citizens, and build a more inclusive economy and society.

According to the report, Pakistan’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking remained stagnant at 146 out of 187 countries, whereas neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and India have improved their rankings to 142 and 135 respectively. In the last two decades, most countries have registered significant improvements in human development but the progress cannot be sustained without building resilience because vulnerabilities and impact of crises and disasters are undermining the hard won progress.

Pakistan recognises that something needs to be done to address this and has shown a strong commitment to address the challenges facing the country. The UK is pleased to be working in partnership with Pakistan to reduce poverty, including by improving access to health and education services and boosting economic growth. Pakistan held its first National Conference on Millennium Development Goals this year to review progress on MDG’s and accelerate the process of development in the country in line with the post-2015 development agenda.

Although Pakistan is still off track on many of the goals, it has demonstrated good progress in some areas. For example, Pakistan has achieved the target of access to improved water resources and the target of the proportion of tuberculosis (TB) cases that have been detected and cured. As well as working towards achieving the MDGs, the Pakistan Government has developed and launched its ‘Vision 2025’ development plan which includes goals such as private sector led growth to lead to sustainable growth and a competitive economy.

One example of the Pakistan Government’s commitment to help the poorest is the recent uplift in the amount paid to beneficiaries of the government’s cash transfer programme (BISP), which the UK supports together with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The stipend was raised by 300 rupees to 1500 rupees a month. These measures help ensure that the poorest families do not get left behind. I believe this programme is really important and hope the Government continues to lead its effective implementation.

With a year to go before the UN agrees the post-2015 sustainable development goals, Pakistan has an opportunity to showcase this work in the international arena. It can influence the debate on what goals will replace the MDGs. We have to build on the MDGs; to look at what more is needed and how we can fill those gaps. Some of the underlying causes of extreme poverty were missed. We must ensure they are not missed again so that open economies and open societies can thrive. This can be achieved through putting in place the basic building blocks of prosperity, including the rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, strong institutions and the presence of rights for citizens – including women — to own and inherit property.

Peace is the foundation for development in all countries and this is very true of Pakistan where instability has had a negative impact on growth and development. An effective and accountable police force, and stable conditions for businesses to invest and prosper in the country are crucial to ensuring effective development outcomes.

Another key factor for Pakistan’s prosperity is a vibrant and inclusive environment for private sector investment and growth, which includes clear and consistently applied policies, regulations and laws, secure property rights, and easy steps to register a new business.

This needs to be supported by effective and inclusive institutions that enable the State to function for its citizens, that give citizens a say in the decisions that affect them and to lead their own development. This includes having fair and effective taxation, respect for the rule of law, and freedom to vote and express political views. Peace and effective institutions are also critical development outcomes in their own right.

Gender equality is also critical and something that should be clearly addressed in the new development goals. Evidence suggests that countries where women and men are equal have stronger growth and are more productive and prosperous. This means girls and women must have equal access to education and economic opportunities. Violence against women and girls must end.

The UK stands with Pakistan in committing to concrete action that will help remove rape and sexual violence from the world’s arsenal of cruelty. We are working with the Government of Pakistan and various non-government organisations to support the implementation of legislation to tackle domestic violence, honour killings, sexual harassment, acid burning, and unequal rights in marriage and inheritance.

The UK government is committed to a world where all girls and women have the opportunity to achieve their potential free from discrimination and violence, but millions are being prevented from doing so by harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM). The UK hosted the first Girl Summit in July, which aimed to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end these practices within a generation.

Child and early marriages are detrimental to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and pose major health risks for the mother and the baby. Child marriages also deny girls their childhood and disrupt or end their education. Poor education limits economic opportunities and earning capacity, affecting the health and well-being of the girl and that of her future children and her entire household.

Women need a platform to express their views, and they must have a choice over how many children they have and when. Pakistan has made firm commitments to this in the recent UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals calling for an end to gender based violence, equal inheritance rights, and an end to discrimination. I hope that Pakistan will continue to voice these views on the global stage, demonstrating their commitment, and bringing other States in to support them.

The UK and Pakistan are working now to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind. The Post 2015 development agenda is a great opportunity for the UK and Pakistan to work together, not only to consider how to speed up Pakistan’s own development, but also to contribute to the international discussion on a new, ambitious and inspiring global framework for sustainable development goals.

 Richard Montgomery is the Head of DFID Pakistan.