ISLAMABAD: The World Economic Forum has recognised Pakistan’s efforts to continue with its plantation drive and creating employment during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the second time it has acknowledged Pakistan for planting trees to fight impacts of climate change.

The forum engages political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

In a short video, the forum shows how Pakistan has engaged out of work labourers, including construction workers, to plant saplings and earn $3 a day enough to feed their families and help keep the economy running during the lockdown.

The forum points out that tens of thousands of new ‘jungle jobs’ have been created and rows of tiny seedlings planted that if cared for will grow into huge forests.

Pakistan has engaged out of work labourers to plant saplings, World Economic Forum says

Workers have to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Pakistan is aiming to plant 10 billion trees to reduce the damage caused by impacts of climate change. It has suffered some of Asia’s worst deforestation, the forum said, adding Pakistan is among countries most vulnerable to its devastating impacts.

From river floods caused by Pakistan’s melting glaciers, severe droughts and unprecedented and unpredictable rains, climate change has already cost the country $3.8 billion since 1998.

Trees strengthen riverbanks and protect against soil erosion decreasing risks of flooding and mitigating effects of global warming.

The forum also recognised Prime Minister Imran Khan whose party planted one billion saplings while in power in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2013 to 2018.

In KP alone, more than 40 species of trees were planted and the project has already exceeded its target of one billion trees.

The forum said the project goes far beyond the money spent, protecting a region of future generations and creating a whole new habitat for wildlife. The forum encouraged all other countries to learn from Pakistan by tackling adverse effects of climate change by planting trees.

The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is a Rs125 billion project aimed at expanding forest cover at all available spaces over five years, including increasing urban forestry, which has become a popular trend to fight heatwaves generated by concrete jungles that cities have become.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2020