Climate Change Crisis Threatens National Food Security

Climate Change Specialist emphasized the necessity of multilateral diplomacy in finding effective solutions to the water crisis, independent of national water management efforts.

In a seminar titled, “Climate Change and Impacts on National Security of Pakistan,” jointly organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, the Executive Director, Abid Qaiyum Suleri, emphasized the increasing challenge of addressing food security amidst the worsening climate change crisis. He underscored how this challenge has transcended into a human security issue.

According to Suleri, climate change poses a significant threat to Pakistan’s national, socio-economic, and macro-economic stability, with the country ranking 14th globally for economic losses and 25th for economic losses per unit GDP.

Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson of SDPI Board of Governors, highlighted the effectiveness of the Indus Water Treaty in maintaining water security between India and Pakistan, thus averting water-driven conflicts. However, he raised concerns about India’s underutilization of the permitted water capacity despite constructing numerous power projects along the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab rivers.

As climate change exacerbates water insecurity and diplomatic efforts stall, Ambassador Kakakhel advocated for multi-crisis diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution, urging the intervention of organizations like the Asian Development Bank and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, President of the Institute of Regional Studies, stressed the importance of leveraging dialogues, regulatory treaties, and think-tank collaboration to address water insecurity diplomatically between India and Pakistan. He emphasized that without political will and effective diplomacy, a lasting solution to the crisis is unlikely.

Climate Change Specialist, Ali Tauqeer Shiekh, emphasized the necessity of multilateral diplomacy in finding effective solutions to the water crisis, independent of national water management efforts. He warned against linking climate issues to security and border disputes between the two countries.

Aisha Khan, Executive Director of Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC), proposed a three-pronged approach to national security focusing on food, water, and population considerations. She advocated for a shift to regenerative agriculture and the implementation of research-backed agricultural practices to address alarming levels of malnutrition.

Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, emphasized the need for transitioning from flooded irrigation to vertical hydroponic agriculture and farm mechanization. He suggested that genetic modified crops could mitigate water wastage and address food and climate issues.

Mustafa Haider Sayed, Executive Director of the Pak-China Institute, stressed the importance of presenting a mutually beneficial narrative for climate finance to access much-needed funds. He highlighted the necessity of developing a climate investment market.

Dr. Imran Khalid, Director Governance at World Wildlife Fund Pakistan, attributed climate change to a failure in development and governance, emphasizing the need for improved urban planning and governance structures. He called for nature-based solutions and farmer-academia linkages to address water contamination and unsustainable water consumption.

Hamid Afridi, Specialist in Green Growth and Climate Change at PPAF, advocated for a human-centric approach to national security and collaboration with local organizations for technology transfer and capacity building. He highlighted PPAF’s efforts in promoting best practices for food security amidst climate challenges.

Dr. Khalid Shafi, Director of Internal Security Studies at the Institute for Strategic Studies, Research & Analysis, called for climate statesmanship and innovative solutions, proposing the development of a South Asian Climate Charter to incorporate national commitments and constitutional provisions.

Arif Goheer, Head of Agriculture, Forestry, and Land-use at the Global Climate-Change Impact Studies Centre, emphasized the need for policy harmonization to align food systems with nutritional requirements and address food security challenges.

Fawad Hayat, Head of Climate Change at the National Disaster Risk Management Fund, highlighted the increasing costs of climate adaptation and the urgent need for climate-resilient infrastructure amidst recurring climate disasters.

In conclusion, amidst the competing priorities exacerbated by the climate crisis, addressing food security emerges as a critical component of human security in Pakistan, requiring collaborative efforts and innovative solutions to mitigate its impact.