SIDRA SAIF ISB: Climate changes have started adversely affecting the overall quality of life in the country in the form of reduced agriculture productivity, increased human morbidity. Pakistan needs to develop a national plan of action on climate change which will address some of the most pressing issues and outline areas of priority for investments and actions.

This was the crux of the remarks expressed at a recently held International Climate Change Conference in the University of Poonch, Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir.

The event was organised by the Poonch University, Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Forum (PASF) and Higher Education Commision (HEC) in order to highlight the urgent need to agriculture, food security and climate change.

The speakers were of the view that taking measures such as improving technological responses by setting in place early warning systems, reducing the vulnerability of livelihoods through infra-structural changes, and developing new and innovative farm production practices are extremely important.

AJK President Sardar Yaqoob in his address said that he hopes the university will excel in research and quality education to reach a prominent status at global level and contribute to the society by carving a disciplined, educated and skilled human resource.

He was of the opinion that there is a serious lack of credible information about climate change as the government departments are often tight lipped about the dissemination of information about the issue. This is a discouraging factor and we all are bound to sensitize all segments of the society on the impacts of climate change to have better results.

In his address, Dr. M.A. Raheem from Bangladesh University said that changing patterns of temperature and precipitation are the instruments through which climate change impacts the world. Pakistans contribution to global carbon emissions is 0.8 per cent, yet it was ranked among the top three countries most impacted by extreme weather events in 2012. It is among the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change

He also said that climate is the average weather conditions at a particular place over a period of 11 to 40 years generally. It refers to a number of factors i.e. temperature, behavior of winds and air pressure. A change of climate is directly or indirectly related to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability over comparable time periods.

Vice Chancellor of the Poonch University, in his welcome address, called for concerted and collective initiatives to focus on climate change and food security and mutual cooperation. He also stressed the need for greater learning through exchange of delegates, effective policies and actions on a permanent basis.

He said that in the previous two decades, Pakistan has suffered average losses of $2 billion per year on account of extreme weather events linked to climate change. Persistent drought conditions in districts such as Tharparkar are only beginning to confirm the fear that Pakistan is crossing the line between water stressed and water scarce.

Dr. Masood Shakir from Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Frorum, said that 65 per cent population is engaged in agriculture, issues related to food and climate change and Pakistan needs to put a special emphasis on saving its agricultural sector since it was most sensitive to extreme weather.

The government needs to act seriously on the issue of underground water. The government needs to restore the Climate Change Ministry, which they demoted in the recent past. Restoring the Ministry can help mobilize the resources through local and international support, promoting scientific studies on issues like the underground water, the way climate change affects underground water and resilience common people can build to access clean drinking water.

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