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LAHORE: The South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) and the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help build resilience to climate change by improving the forest cover of Punjab through increase in private investments and corporate social responsibility activities.

A press release stated that the MoU was signed between the chief executive officers of both organisations, Tahir Rasheed of SPFC and Dr Rashid Bajwa of NRSP, in the presence of senior representatives of World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) and Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Arsalan Alfred of the GCF was briefed about the objectives of this partnership. He appreciated the initiative and expressed hopes of environment-sensitive projects being developed by Pakistan.

Tahir Rasheed, while commending the work of NRSP in alleviating poverty, stressed that their mandate was in line with the mission of the forest company that planned to create 15,000 direct and indirect green jobs in south Punjab leading to revenue generation of Rs242 billion, which will help eradicate poverty in the region.

He further said: “SPFC’s initiative will help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 ‘No Poverty’, as poverty will be substantially reduced through the influx of billions of rupees; SDG 13 ‘Climate Action’ as 5.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be sequestered; SDG 15 ‘Life on Land’ which calls to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Dr Bajwa was of the opinion that the initiative taken by the Punjab government will help restore the dwindling forests and also help create rural jobs for the community.

This MoU between SPFC and NRSP will explore synergies to secure climate finance that will be utilised in the forestry sector to help reduce the vulnerability of Punjab to climate change.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2018