SIDRA SAIF ISB: Pakistan is facing major environmental issues, mainly water shortage, which have the potential to plague the country in coming years in terms of impacting ecosystems and biodiversity besides triggering more natural disaster deterioration of climate change. They called for a comprehensive policy framework and its effective implementation involving all stakeholders to minimize environmental impacts.

These views were expressed at a meeting organized by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Pakistan in Islamabad. A large number of representatives of the donor agencies attended the meeting.

On the occasion, the participants comprising donors and development sector experts and IUCN Pakistan highlighted some of the major environmental issues, mainly water with a serious caution that these issues could plague the country in coming years.

They noted that much more is needed in driving sustainable development, and helping to ensure resilience in the face of climate change and other natural disasters, and protecting fragile ecosystems and biodiversity

In the opening remarks, Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Regional Director Asia, while providing an overall view of the environmental affairs in the Asia region she said that there are numerous studies that have confirmed beyond doubt the massive impact environmental degradation can have on human health and livelihood.

“In this context, there is no question that much more is needed in driving sustainable development, and helping to ensure resilience in the face of climate change and other natural disasters, and protecting fragile ecosystems and biodiversity,” she observed.

Malik Amin Aslam, IUCN Global Vice President and Regional Councillor, briefed the participants on the green growth strategy by the KPK government.

He enumerated the benefits of investment in the environment sector and also warned of the consequences of ignoring this sector. He informed that the government of Pakistan had invested around two billion rupees in this sector for this year.

The Himalayan glacier, whose ice melt replenishes the Indus Rivers annual freshwater, is receding by about one meter – the approximate equivalent of 3.3 feet – per year due to global warming.

Paul Neville, Second Secretary, US Embassy, shared the details of the US Ambassadors Fund and noted that USAID was investing $43 million in the wind power related projects in Pakistan.

He also mentioned of the 2015 State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama, which declared Climate Change as the greatest threat to our future generations.

Shakir Arbab, Representative of Swiss Development and Cooperation (SDC), informed that SDC was planning to implement a programme in Pakistan amounting to between 9-12 million Swiss Francs that would focus on FATA area, where water governance and other issues required greater attention.

The participants of the meeting viewed water scarcity as a major threat to the country which needs preventive measures to overcome this future threat.

Dr. Don Macintosh, an expert on Coastal Programmes, shared the upcoming Pakistan Coastal Programme, which looks holistically at improving the environmental condition of Sindh and Balochistan coasts.

Imran Ashraf, representative of delegation of the European Union to Pakistan, mentioned about 240 mini hydro power stations in seven districts. He also mentioned of the future project amounting to 20 million Euros covering water resources and infrastructure and economy of women.

Speaking on Balochistan initiatives, he informed the participants of the programme for Balochistan that will cover water, sanitation and ground water amounting.

Representatives of the Embassies of Japan, France and Netherlands also appreciated the challenges discussed and lauded the efforts of IUCN Pakistan towards environmental protection.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan shared details of the major initiatives of IUCN Pakistan, mentioning that it will resume its work and presence in the KPK and FATA areas in the future.

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