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LAHORE: The Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan organised a policy dialogue at a local hotel on Friday.

It discussed how provincial policies and strategies could best serve as a vehicle for successful implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the Paris Climate Agreement, says a press release.

The event titled, ‘Towards 2047: Policy Dialogue on Punjab’s Climate and Growth Policies and Strategies’, was aimed to sensitise key stakeholders, including policy-makers and opinion leaders, to deliberate on a set of salient questions that are critical for the growth, development and well-being of the fast-growing but vulnerable population of Punjab.

Policy experts Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, the CEO of LEAD Pakistan and Director of Asia, Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN); Dr Qaiser Bengali, Adviser to the Balochistan government; and Punjab MPA Tahia Noon shared their views on how climate change threatened Punjab and what adaptation and mitigation options could help in addressing the issues effectively.

Mr Sheikh said: ‘Poverty and climate vulnerability are intrinsically linked, and this reality makes it imperative to develop a pro-poor climate compatible development strategy for Punjab’.

Following the keynote address by Dr Qaiser Bangali in which he talked about rising inequality and how our greed was leading to the degradation of ecosystem services, the event featured two back-to-back roundtable discussions where experts talked about climate vulnerability of Punjab and proposed solutions to deal with it.

Basharat Saeed, Climate Change Programme coordinator of LEAD-Pakistan, highlighted the drivers of climate vulnerability in Punjab and emphasized the important role of vulnerability assessments in targeting service delivery and directing development interventions.

Dr Khalid Mohtidullah, an expert on water policy, said: “You can’t value what you can’t measure’, underscoring the need for research and data on availability, productivity and utilization of water in Pakistan”.

He said there were countries which had 1/100th the water that Pakistan had, but they had a higher value of agricultural output.

Dr Nasir Javed, the CEO of Urban Unit, reminded the audience of the need to admit to our mistakes as the first step towards finding sustainable solutions.

This was best captured by his claim, ‘The population growth is not the culprit but rather the lack of planning that is to blame.’

The policy dialogue helped policy-makers develop a greater understanding of the need for climate compatible development in Punjab.

A lively debate took place as various experts involved in the planning and implementation of national and provincial development policies participated and gave their recommendations on how to make Punjab resilient to climate change.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2016