ISLAMABAD: The Senate Climate Change Caucus noted in its inaugural session that gaps in policy decisions and their implementation need to be identified and decided to discuss the matter with provincial representatives of climate and environment departments.

The caucus met for the first time at Parliament House on Monday. It aims to liaise with provincial climate change committees and forums for greater coordination in terms of legislation and implementation in the area of climate change.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Sherry Rehman. It discussed the parameters to be considered while designing plantation drives and the importance of making climate change guidelines specific to provinces, as different regions face different issues resulting from climate change.

“Climate change has clearly become Pakistan’s most pressing challenge in its scale and impact,” Senator Rehman said. She added that the platform is particularly important since Pakistan is ranked seventh in the list of countries most affected by climate change, which is potentially catastrophic.

“Given its place in the region and its growing population, it is crucial for Pakistan to be able to monitor, prevent and respond to climate change,” she said.

Senators said climate change is one of the most threatening challenges in the 21st century, and is becoming an issue of survival.

Caucus members also deliberated upon the terms of reference for its operations. It was decided that the caucus will work to create climate literacy among parliamentarians, civil society and other influential spheres in order for a collective effort to emerge in countering climate change.

They agreed that the caucus is not to assure the role of provincial governments or replicate the working of the standing committee, and that its actual role will be of climate advocacy.

The caucus was briefed by the ministry on its budget heads, international conventions related to the climate of which Pakistan is a signatory, the role and purpose of the climate change authority and replicating the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Billion Tree Tsunami project, among other matters.

Senators said Pakistan has been a victim of climatic injustice for far too long, and should be an active participant in the global discussion working to counter climatic change conditions.

Members said it was alarming that little has been done to understand and tackle this issue. In the absence of robust policy, climate change has caused a multiplier of threats and depletion of the country’s already strained resources.

They noted that a comprehensive plan to address climate change should already have been in place, but expressed the hope that the caucus has taken shape and will lead the narrative and push for greater advocacy regarding the reality of climate change in the country and the region.

Attendees of the meeting included Leader of the House in Senate Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, senators Nuzhat Sadiq, Javed Abbasi, Sassui Palijo, Mohammad Akram, Sitara Ayaz, Usman Kakar, Faisal Javed, Khushbakht Shujaat and Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, the climate change secretary and other ministry officials.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018

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