PR: The Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan in collaboration with IUCN Pakistan, Government of Sindh and other stakeholders commemorated the International Coastal Clean-up Day at the Seaview Beach in Karachi today. Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, was the Chief Guest on this occasion. Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan and Inspector General Forests, Syed Nasir Mahmood were also present on the occasion.

Around a 1000 students, youth and volunteers participated in the event which aimed at creating mass awareness of the significance of clean coasts and oceans and why they need to be protected from wastes such as plastic, which research says is found in 62% sea bird and 100% in sea turtle species.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan appreciated the efforts carried out by IUCN in coordinating a massive event and for cleaning up the 3km beach which is thronged by hundreds and thousands of people every week.  “I would like to thank IUCN Pakistan for a leading role in organizing and coordinating this mega activity, as well as mainly the students that have come from various schools of Karachi for collecting tonnes of solid and plastic waste from the Seaview Beach on this day,” the Minister noted.

He also thanked Karachi Port Trust and Sindh Forest Department, Engro Foundation, UNDP, Nestle for their financial assistance. He was of was of the view that growing pollution in the seas was due to limited awareness amongst masses and the inadequacy of proper infrastructure. He invited the media for playing its role to create awareness on environmental degradation. He mentioned that due to a fast growing population of the world, the earth surface “would not be able to meet our future food requirement and thus human beings will have to turn to the oceans.”He lamented that “we have turned our coasts into waste dumps. Our sea shores are stinking because of the waste dumped by us.”

He further said that the federal and provincial governments, NGOs, civil society organizations and individuals will have to come together to keep our coasts clean. He reiterated that mangroves are the sanctuaries of the marine biodiversity.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan thanked the Minister, participants and guests and appreciated the role played by Ministry of Climate Change for a leading role in the event and the other stakeholders for their support in raising awareness amongst masses on the significance of cleaner coasts.

During the ceremony, the Minister also launched two publications produced by IUCN Pakistan under its Mangroves for the Future Programme titled: Pakistan’s Coastal and Marine Resources and Valuation of Mangroves in PQA Indus Delta: An Econometric Approach. Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema briefed the media about the value of the mangroves in economic terms. He emphasised on the mangroves protection as they are a great asset for the coastal communities in terms of the sea food that they produce. We need to protect our oceans because the oceans are the largest ecosystems that we have, and they are the planet’s largest life support systems. To survive and prosper, we all need healthy oceans. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe. More than 97% of the world’s water resides in oceans.  Living oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change. For us, our coasts are our natural assets and we need to protect them at all costs.

The organizations involved in the commemoration were: Sindh Forest Department, UN Environment; National Institute of Oceanography; Karachi Port Trust; SACEP; Engro Foundation; WWF Pakistan; Clifton Cantonment Board; Karachi Cantonment Board, District Administration, Nestle Pakistan;  United Nations Development Programme and National Forum for Environment and Health.