Pakistan’s Threat Of Climate Change Links With Socioeconomic Challenges

China and Pakistan have many opportunities for cooperation in disaster risk management due to their complex topography, climatic conditions, and dense populations.

Pakistan’s Threat Of Climate Change Links With Socioeconomic Challenges

Dr. Ahmad Ali Gul, a participant in the Climate Change Working Group of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), asserts that Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change is inextricably linked to its socioeconomic challenges and political system.

Dr. Ahmad Ali Gul noted that Pakistan, despite producing less than 1% of the world’s emissions, was among the top 10 countries most affected by climatic changes over the previous 20 years. In an interview, he said that “disasters can exacerbate the water security challenges” and that “our agriculture-based economy is sensitive to climate-related shocks.”

China Economic Net stated that Dr. Gul gave a speech at the disaster risk management symposium sponsored by the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN) about Pakistan’s lessons and opportunities in the context of climate change.

Dr. Gul is also an assistant professor and director of the centre for disaster management at the University of Management and Technology.

According to the official post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) for 2022, there were approximately 33 million people affected, 8 million of whom had to be relocated, and damages and losses totaled USD 14.9 billion and USD 15.3 billion, respectively.

Dr. Gul stressed that preliminary estimates indicate that these floods may directly contribute to an increase in the nation’s poverty rate to 4.0 percent and the ensuing poverty of up to 9 million people.

Even worse, Pakistan is one of the world’s most water-stressed countries. Only 36% of Pakistanis today have access to properly managed drinking water, down from 38% in 2004. In addition to the climate itself, other factors including socioeconomic challenges, in Dr. Gul’s opinion, maintain a state of vulnerability and turn a risk into a catastrophe.

Disaster risk management (DRM) is not integrated with the planning and development process, which means that development initiatives frequently result in increased risk rather than decreased risk, which causes maladaptation. Domestic institutions still follow a response-centric approach to disaster management at all levels.

According to Dr. Gul, many of the crucial infrastructures—including hospitals, important roads, and power—were severely damaged by the floods of 2022 because they were situated in high-risk areas without the necessary safety precautions. Additionally, the lack of hydro-meteorological measurement and study makes the situation worse.

How then can Pakistan abandon the complacent status quo in order to address the increasingly serious climate challenge in a proactive and constructive manner?

Dr. Gul stated, “Small storages, dams, reservoirs, and ecosystem-based solutions are needed to build climate resilience for these communities. The communities that experienced floods this year were experiencing drought a few years ago.

China and Pakistan have many opportunities for cooperation in disaster risk management due to their complex topography, climatic conditions, and dense populations. Community awareness needs to be increased through supporting community-based-organizations (CBOs), giving them power, and increasing awareness among students.

Dr. Gul listed a few technologically-required areas for Pakistan, including advanced hydrological measurement systems, precipitation radars, and flood protection infrastructure.

“We should learn from China’s experience in implementing nature-based solutions and green infrastructure in urban settings to make cities more sustainable.”

Smog is another issue that significantly impacts Pakistan. Our cities are among the most polluted in the world. We can therefore take a lot of inspiration from China’s success in rapidly improving the quality of its air. Dr. Gul made a special point of mentioning the significance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor when discussing future planning.

“One of the main causes of a person’s vulnerability to the effects of the climate is poverty besides socioeconomic challenges. The very significant socioeconomic benefits that CPEC is bringing to Pakistan will undoubtedly increase the population’s resilience and capacity to deal with various climate disasters.

“Secondly, the CPEC’s transportation infrastructure has the potential to significantly increase the domestic transportation network’s connectivity.” Particularly, many previously inaccessible remote areas now have safe and dependable road connectivity, which can significantly reduce the response time to disasters and streamline the logistics of providing relief.