KARACHI: Highlighting how environmental degradation is affecting community life and health, experts said that one important contribution every individual could make towards saving nature is to get involved in plantation in a big way.
They were speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the fifth international conference on ‘Environmental Horizon, Sounding the Alarm! Environment, Climate Change and Health’, which opened at Karachi University (KU) on Friday. It was held at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) jointly organised by KU’s department of chemistry, Office of Research Innovation and Commercialisation and the ICCBS.
Speaking about environmental challenges, Hammad Naqi Khan, the director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, said that it was high time to take concrete measures to address environmental challenges in the country.
“There is a dire need to understand the gravity of environmental challenges that Pakistan faces today, including deforestation, climate change and reduction of freshwater resources. They are adversely impacting environment, health and economy of the country,” he said.
Sharing details of government plans to improve environmental conditions, Zartaj Gul Wazir, federal minister of state for climate change, said environmental degradation and public health were interlinked and the country currently faced serious challenges in both sectors. One indicator was Pakistan’s high child mortality rates, especially those dying of diarrhoea caused by contaminated water and food, she added.
Expressing government’s resolve to tackle health and environment-related problems, she said that her ministry was following the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to make the county green.
The government, she said, believed that country’s youth could play a critical role in improving environmental conditions. The first step in this regard was to make them aware of the importance of forests and nature conservation.
Touching upon the subject of untreated waste water being discharged into the sea, she said the issue needed immediate attention from authorities concerned, hinting at Sindh government’s lack of initiatives in this regard.
ICCBS director Prof Iqbal Choudhary pointed out that Pakistan was the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. He said climate change and environmental degradation should be treated as a communal problem. Referring to statistics of international organisations, he said the country was suffering from many ecological challenges posing severe threats to human health and life.
“Deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, climate change, pesticide misuse, soil erosion and desertification are all environmental issues directly affecting public health,” he said. Special secretary health Dabeer A. Khan briefed the audience about Sindh government’s efforts in environmental and health sectors.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019