Building Pakistan’s climate change resilience
In order to understand the position of any country with respect to its climate change commitments, its domestic laws and policies must be examined and compared with the progress being made by other regional partners. Therefore, though climate action needs to be sought horizontally as well as vertically, to ensure that it catches root, the young as well as the experienced need to be involved together in building resilience.
At the recently held 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum organised by the UNEP and the ADB in Manila, a number of regional case studies were discussed on how to best build resilient for all by avoiding the worst climate change impacts. I met with a number of experts who were working on areas, such as, green infrastructure development, building resilient cities and those who were integrating women in the climate impact mitigation strategies. Of the three people who attended the conference from Pakistan, one was myself, a second was a young journalist and the third, 13-year-old Dina Farooq Malik who spoke about her work in climate change adaptation as a speaker at the opening plenary and created quite a stir amongst the almost 1,000 international delegates attending because she was the youngest international delegate.
In Pakistan, the position of climate change legislation is quite encouraging. Pakistan recently passed the much-awaited Water Policy in April 2018 and ranks high in terms of passing relevant laws for safeguarding of the environment, but the lack of implementation of the laws remains a big challenge. More specifically, the challenge stems from the lack of the awareness and understanding of the environmental laws and policies of Pakistan. Efforts must be made to do the capacity building of government institutions and departments to better understand international commitments and to gauge whether and when domestic policies are in line with the international treaties to which the state is a signatory.
The National Climate Change Policy 2012 and the National Water Policy 2018 have been passed, and the present government of Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan is pro-climate change adaptation. The time is now ripe to assess the domestic gaps that exist between policy and practice especially after international commitments such as the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC 1997 and the Paris Agreement, 2015. For all this, the state mechanisms must be in place to allow for the laws and policies to be implemented and again, the young as well as the experienced must be brought together for a National Climate Action Agenda for all.
The new Climate Change Act 2016 establishes a Pakistan Climate Change Council, Pakistan Climate Change Authority and Pakistan Climate Change Fund. The newly-established policy-making Climate Change Council needs to be invoked for regular climate change policy dialogues with all stakeholders and its findings must be shared with relevant bodies both within Pakistan and outside with international development bodies, for better understanding of Pakistan’s technical and institutional challenges.
The government should be offering more direct support to provinces to implement environmental projects and regular capacity building of institutions should be a part of any programme initiated by the Climate Change Authority or the Climate Change Fund.
By way of promoting public-private partnerships, independent organisations must be entrusted with the task of aiding in the capacity building of departments, institutions and even educational institutions to explore innovative methods of climate change adaptation, awareness and legal compliance so that Pakistan’s case can be better presented at international platforms as a country on the path to resilience.