Ahmad Rafay Alam, an Environmental Lawyer, expressed support for the SDPI on social media use in terms of training, content creation, and figures and facts to channel passions.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) seminar “Tweet4Climate: Role of Social Media for Climate Advocacy in Pakistan” brought together climate change experts, civil society, climate activists, the private sector, and the media to discuss the topic.

Experts at a seminar on Monday said the country’s growing footprint on social media platforms with a strong influence and presence needed to be channeled for enhancing mass awareness on climate change education and awareness.

Zainab Naeem, SDPI Associate Research Fellow, moderated the session and elaborated on the role of social media in highlighting the climate crisis.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director of SDPI, stated in his opening remarks that the seminar on Role of Social Media for Climate Advocacy in Pakistan was about the power of social media and the power of social media to contain another power known as climate change. He went on to say that the two recognised were, in his opinion, difficult to contain. The first was climate change, and the second was social media.

He emphasised that there were approximately 47 million Facebook accounts registered in Pakistan, approximately six million Twitter users, approximately 19 million Instagram users, and numerous other similar platforms that needed to be considered.

“We have 50–60 million unique users, which can be a powerful force in raising awareness about climate change and reinforcing accountability and transparency in the implementation of our policies and practises,” Dr. Suleri explained.

The SDPI Executive Director also highlighted the challenge of fake news proliferation on social media, emphasising the role of activists in debunking fake news. He stated, “Pakistan is a climate-vulnerable country, and social media has been a very effective tool in strengthening the public and private sectors. It can be used to justify wrongdoing and to propose alternative solutions.”

Ahmad Rafay Alam, an Environmental Lawyer, expressed support for the SDPI on social media use in terms of training, content creation, and figures and facts to channel passions.

He also highlighted the need for in-time updates on early warning, and the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) presented a video on the climate shocks faced by the country in 2022. Pakistan is the only country to have a Climate Change Act, but the Council has only met once since its creation in September 2022, before COP-27.

Asad Baig, Executive Director of Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD), argued that social media is not a power but rather a challenge to be dealt with.

He called for corporations like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to be held accountable for climate misinformation, noting that Twitter had banned tweets on climate that were wrong and Google on YouTube had banned ads leading to climate misinformation. He asked if these companies could be held responsible for climate misinformation.

Sidra Riaz, Lecturer Governance and Public Policy at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), started her journey of climate activism by creating student activities on climate issues.

She then searched international media reports to report on floods in Pakistan and made posts on Canva highlighting different districts, starting from Balochistan and then Sindh. These posts went viral and were shared by many politicians. She and her team worked on different posts to highlight causalities, provide donation solutions, and help the area.

Lecturer Sidra Riaz used social media to raise her voice on climate change and was invited to speak on different aspects of flood devastation. She emphasized the importance of youth’s knowledge on climate change, as advocacy is not possible without interest and knowledge.

Zainab Waheed, a climate activist, called for incorporating more young voices in the stakeholder process of addressing climate change. She highlighted the need to address the root cause of misinformation, whose beneficiaries are the fossil fuel industries and the global north. She also highlighted the difference in international and Pakistani media perspectives on climate discussions.