LAHORE: The two-day Forum “Pakistan Sey Paris: on the road to 2015 Paris Climate Conference”, organised jointly by the Embassy of France, federal and provincial governments, the United Nations, and a large array of civil society organisations, concluded on Wednesday.

The conference was attended by more than 600 people from the government, academia, civil society, students and media sectors and the general public. The forum set the stage for Pakistan’s preparation for the upcoming climate change conference to be held in Paris in just 50 days.

Speakers included: French Ambassador Martine Dorance; EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain; United Nations Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne; Standing Committee on Sustainable Development Goals Chairman Marriyum Aurengzeb; Ministry of Climate Change Secretary Arif Ahmad Khan; representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tasneem Aslam; former senator Javed Jabbar, Dr Shoaib Sultan Khan, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Dr Parvez Hassan.

In four round tables, they discussed low-carbon development strategies in Pakistan, adaptation and impacts of climate change on food and water security, on health and gender, disaster risk management and climate smart solutions. The lead author of the National Climate Change Policy, Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, said: “Climate change is the 21st century’s most difficult challenge humans have ever created.”

Mr Jabbar advocated strengthening the capacity of civil society and decreasing their dependency on donor organisations, reconceptualising the development approaches and adopting a collaborative rather than confrontational approach to address climate change.

Senator Nisar A Memon, chairman of the Water and Environment Forum Pakistan, said that “small solutions had to be developed together with the private sector to face climate change challenges”. Former ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel stressed the need to “strengthen institutional mechanisms to promote collaboration among government agencies and non-state stakeholders for formulation and implementation of a low carbon climate resilient growth paradigm”. Bella Evidente from the UN Habitat called “the cities to act and identify their risks”.

About the impacts of health, Dr Sania Nishtar proposed establishing cross cutting institutions that can do long term thinking and planning that see beyond the short term.

Dr Dominique Reynaud proposed establishing a scientific regional panel on climate change (PPCC) or such a “Pakistan panel on climate change” on the model of the IPCC.

Dr Shoaib Sultan defended people-centric development initiatives, focused on community empowerment and economic resilience in ways that reflect their hopes and aspirations.

Mr Marc-André Franche from the UNDP highlighted the importance of developing climate change literacy and implementing effectively the policies, through better governance.

Youth voices were represented by the Youth Parliament. Numerous students from the Lahore Superior University helped to organise the event. Many “made in Pakistan” solutions to tackle climate change were presented and recommended.

This “agenda of solutions” will be showcased in Paris, highlighting Pakistani voices, challenges and people’s priorities.

This unprecedented event, which gathered all stakeholders, turned out a success.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2015

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