Call to make climate change part of uplift policy
KARACHI: Participants in a workshop held on Wednesday at a local hotel urged the government to make the climate change issue part of the overall development policy of the province as the phenomenon was affecting humans and environment in its entirety.
They also underlined the need for research to study impacts of climate change.
The two-day training workshop titled ‘Clean development mechanism and climate change adaptation and mitigation’ was organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) in collaboration with the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) and the Friends of Indus Forum (FIF).
The programme was part of the WWF-P’s Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan project funded by the European Commission.
Sharing his views, coordinator vulnerability and resilience, Lead-Pakistan’s Arif Rahman said that every hazard didn’t necessarily translate into a disaster. Reducing the risk of a hazard that could transform into a disaster depended on good governance and proactive planning by government agencies and organisations.
“Scientific knowledge needs to be transferred to local communities whose indigenous knowledge has not been able to keep pace with climatic changes of the past few decades,” he observed.
FIF General Secretary Nasir Ali Panhwar said Sindh was facing plethora of problems on account of rapid urbanisation, overpopulation, deforestation and discharge of untreated effluents into the sea. The issues that had remained unattended for a long time had made the situation even more complex.
“Sea intrusion, salinity, decreasing forest cover, shrinking aquifers, deteriorating water quality and turning of fresh water bodies into brackish ones are some imminent threats to the sustainability of the Indus river today,” he said.
He further said that there was a strong need to act collectively for the restoration and conservation of various ecosystems depending on the Indus.
‘Sindh is highly vulnerable to climate change and the Sindh government must take climate change as a priority issue by integrating it with the overall development policy of the province,” he added.
In his speech, Sepa Director General Naeem Ahmed Mughal expressed concern over environmental degradation and said productive land was converting into non-productive and barren land due to drastic changes in temperature, sea intrusion and erratic changes in rainfall patterns.
“Climate change is a cross-cutting subject. Hence, it requires a multi-sectoral response involving different departments to play an active role in its mitigation,” he remarked.
Syed Amjad Hussain representing the Climate Change Division said that climate change was adversely impacting the country’s economy. According to him, the 2010 flooding alone cost Pakistan six per cent of its gross domestic product.
“Nine of the 10 most devastating catastrophes were climate-change induced in the last decade,” he told the audience.
Journalist Afia Salam said that though Pakistan contributed very little to global emissions of greenhouse gases (about 0.8pc of the total emissions and was ranked 135th globally on a percapita basis), the country remained severely impacted by the negative effects of climate change.
Glacier melt in the Himalayas, she said, was believed to be increasing flooding and this would be followed by a decrease in river flows over time as glaciers recede. She maintained that this situation would lead to a biodiversity loss and reduced availability of freshwater.
‘Coastal areas will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and, in some cases, the rivers,” she said.
Participants suggested that research cells should be set up at the district level to collect data on climate change.
Regional director of WWF-P Rab Nawaz, policy officer CCAP (WWF-P) Farrukh Zaman, former secretary of forests and wildlife Shamsul Haq Memon, Waqar Phulapoto of the Sindh EPA and Saleem Jalbani, representing the provincial planning and development department, also spoke.