STAFF REPORT ISB: The looming threat of water scarcity and adverse impacts of climate change have complicated the serious challenge of ensuring food security for fast increasing populations of the Asian countries. However, active measures such as better watershed management, introduction of water recharge dams, water storage facilities and rainwater harvesting would go a long way to make the people more resilient to climate change.

These views were expressed by expert at a recently held three-day International Conference on “Challenges in Water Security to Meet the Growing Food Requirement” here at Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) in Islamabad.

The workshop was organized by PAS in collaboration with the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA). Leading experts from Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Korea and Nepal were the resource persons at this important scientific forum.

Minister for Education Baligh ur Rehman and Zahid Hamid, Federal Minister for Climate Change, attended the inauguration and concluding ceremonies respectively. Besides, President PAS Dr. Anwar Nasim, Engr. Shamsul Mulk, Secretary General PAS Prof. Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari, Fellow PAS and Workshop Coordinator Dr. Abdul Rashid also addressed on the occasion and shared their valuable knowledge and experience with the participants.

In his remarks, Zahid Hamid said that the worst issues of climate change could be controlled by successful adaptation, which would probably be less than the cost of impacts that would occur without adjustments.

“Given the threat of climate change we must change our development paradigm and adopt inclusive, green growth strategies, and other eco-efficient approaches to urban development,” he said.

He suggested that they need to address the ignorance toward protection of water first. Much of the water that is accounted for is wasted by inefficient water use by households, industries and agriculture.

On this occasion, Baligh ur Rehman said that the water scarcity and climate change, food security for the fast increasing populations of Asian countries is achievable. This can be accomplished on a sustainable basis by employing well thought of science-based solutions and strategies.

He also said that the current trend of water use in Asian countries is not sustainable in the face of fast increasing populations, and the challenges posed by climate change. Thus, ensuring food security for fast growing populations of Asian countries with shrinking water resources is a daunting task, he added. On behalf of the government of Pakistan, he assured the implementation of the recommendations of the workshop.

After technical presentations and discussions by the experts, three Penal Discussions of the Workshop were led by senior scientists like Dr. Amir Muhammed, founding chairman PARC, former chairman WAPDA Engr. Shamsul Mulk and Dr. Mubarik Ali made some recommendations.

PAS President Dr. Anwer Nasim said that the country is heading toward a serious water crisis. By 2030, experts expect this semi-arid nation to decline from being water stressed to water scarce. Because of overuse and misuse, the country is facing declining water availability and quality, growing water pollution, and overall environmental insecurity.

“The domestically driven conflict over water in Pakistan needs to be better understood so that appropriate development strategies can be implemented,” he said.

Director General Pakistan Meteorological Department Dr. Ghulam Rasul, Chief Executive SACAN Engr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gill and Member (FSandCC) Planning Commission of Pakistan Dr. Mubarik Ali presented detailed recommendations of their groups to tackle the climate change impact and water security for sustainable food production and related issues.

They said the concrete recommendations made by the experts; need to be implemented by the government. They said, we must learn from the past. They urged the capacity building of national institutions to tackle these issues effectively.

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