World Environment Day: COMSATS Focuses on Science-Driven Solutions

COMSATS hosts a high-level panel discussion for UN World Environment Day, highlighting innovative climate change solutions.

In celebration of United Nations (UN) World Environment Day, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ECO Science Foundation, and the Food Security and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (FACE), organized a high-level panel discussion.

The event was graced by Ms. Romina Khurshid Alam, Coordinator to the Prime Minister on Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, as the Chief Guest.

Addressing the gathering, Ms. Romina emphasized that sustainable development requires a comprehensive strategy that integrates the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of land degradation and other environmental issues.

She underscored several critical measures for mitigating degradation and desertification, such as investing in science and technology (S&T), promoting research and development (R&D), supporting scientists’ efforts, and enhancing farmers’ knowledge and skills to implement sustainable practices.

Highlighting the government’s initiatives, she mentioned the Living Indus Initiative and Recharge Pakistan as significant steps toward tackling environmental challenges. Additionally, she expressed concern over the potential threat to the Indus population posed by India’s construction of dams on rivers allocated to Pakistan.

Ambassador Dr. Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, Executive Director of COMSATS, pointed out that climate change, poverty, food security, and hunger are intertwined social and ecological challenges facing the developing world. He stressed the need for a coherent policy approach driven by technology-based solutions, suggesting that COMSATS could assist countries in addressing these issues.

Prof. Seyed Komail Tayebi, President of the ECO Science Foundation, remarked that climate change is a matter of survival, necessitating a multipronged approach that incorporates innovation and effective resource management.

Lt. General Inam Haider, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), stated that inaction on climate change is not an option. He mentioned that Pakistan is making efforts to meet global expectations by utilizing artificial intelligence and other technological tools for local disaster management and contributing to international forums.

Mr. Syed Haider Shah, Additional Secretary (UN) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warned that the window of opportunity for corrective actions is rapidly closing. He highlighted the unfulfilled commitment of US$100 billion for climate finance to support developing countries’ climate change actions and proposed enhanced global cooperation, adequate financial support, and stakeholder coordination for balanced adaptation and mitigation of environmental degradation.

The high-level panel discussion featured prominent experts, including Dr. Kemal Güneş, Senior Chief Researcher and Vice President of TÜBİTAK MAM, Türkiye; Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Senior Advisor on Climate Change and Biodiversity at the United Nations Development Cooperation Office (UNDCO); Mr. Bilal Anwar, CEO of the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDMRF); Cdre (Retd) Baber Bilal, Vice President of the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA); and Dr. Sohail Malik, Technical Team Leader at the Climate Resourcing Coordination Centre (CRCC).

The discussion covered a range of topics, such as restoring large-scale ecosystems, natural capital accounting, financial investment in ecosystem enhancement activities, addressing water scarcity and sustainability, integrated land and water management, technology-driven nature-based solutions for sustainable development, the role of the private sector, and Pakistan’s Living Indus Initiative (LII), one of the seven UN World Restoration Flagship programs.

Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, and Syria were among the approximately eighty attendees of the UN World Environment Day celebration. It successfully raised awareness about the importance of environmental protection and set the stage for collaboration among various stakeholders to develop S&T-based solutions for environmental challenges.

The discussion highlighted the urgent need for collective action and innovative strategies to combat climate change, emphasizing that a sustainable future depends on our ability to integrate science, technology, and effective resource management.