‘Biodiversity loss will have severe implications for humanity’

06 Jun 2020


MUCH more needs to be done to improve living conditions for a vast number of Pakistanis.—Online
MUCH more needs to be done to improve living conditions for a vast number of Pakistanis.—Online

KARACHI: Pakistan Navy observed World Environment Day on Friday with due cognizance.

World Environment Day is observed internationally on June 5 every year under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The purpose of the day is to lay importance on and to provide awareness of the prevailing environment and generate public attention towards its protection and preservation.

The theme selected for this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Celebrate biodiversity’ which is the core foundation supporting all life on earth.

It affects every aspect of human health, provides clean air and water, nutritious food, natural disease resistance and climate change mitigation. “Human actions including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, are pushing nature beyond its limit. If we continue on this path, biodiversity loss will have severe implications for humanity, including collapse of food and health systems,” read a handout of the Pakistan Navy.

“Pakistan Navy also observes World Environment Day regularly to highlight the significance of the environment and encourage awareness amongst personnel in proactively pursuing measures focusing on the marine environment,” the handout reminded.

Pakistan Navy observes World Environment Day while different bodies hold online events

There are numerous activities arranged throughout the year which included tree plantation, harbour and beach-cleaning campaigns, environment awareness walks, lectures and seminars on the significance of the day as well as social media campaigns.

Amid the ongoing crisis of Covid-19, while avoiding/involving social gatherings, the efforts have now been focused on the display of banners, distribution of pamphlets, publication of articles and telecast of event-specific documentaries. Such events played a pivotal role in enhancing awareness regarding the importance of environment amongst the general populace.

Earlier, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, in his message of the day reaffirmed Pakistan Navy’s resolve and commitment to make every effort for the betterment of the environment, especially the marine environment.

The naval chief also directed men under command to initiate dedicated efforts and echoed that Pakistan Navy would continue to achieve its mission with rightful regard for the environment.

Experts call for focus on poor communities amid crisis

At an online event held on Friday to mark World Environment Day, speakers said that the approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic tended to overlook how inequality was growing in society and how the crisis impacted underprivileged communities, especially poor women.

Jointly organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) and Oxfam Pakistan, the event aimed at creating awareness of nature conservation and highlighting the urgent need for solidarity and a gender-sensitive response to Covid-19.

Speaking at the session, Dr Babar Khan, regional head Sindh and Balochistan, WWF-P said habitat loss and destruction of nature was probably the greatest threat to all forms of life on the planet today.

“What we urgently need to understand is that everything is interconnected in nature and we need to restore the balance, in order to protect ourselves,” he said, adding that the poor suffered the most from the extreme effects of the pandemic and climate change.

Riaz Ahmed Wagan, chief conservator forests, Sindh, said that extreme weather patterns in Pakistan, especially rise in temperature, frequent cyclones, uncertain rainfall, super floods and severe droughts caused by deforestation and climate change had brought about drastic changes in the socio-economic and environmental conditions of the country.

“Climate related hazards have significant impact on the lives of poor and marginalised communities mainly in the coastal belt of Sindh, therefore, alternative livelihood opportunities should be created and mangroves plantations should be increased.”

Environmental challenges to Pakistan

At another webinar held by International Union of Conservation of Nature, Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, speakers highlighted the environmental challenges Pakistan faced and the initiatives being taken by the government in collaboration with private partners to help improve environment.

“The last three years have seen major environmental and green initiatives, including the Billion Tree Tsunami, Electric vehicle Policy, Recharge Pakistan, Clean Green Pakistan Index and Ecotourism,” said adviser to prime minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam.

In his remarks, retired Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah, chairman, Port Qasim Authority, said that environmental degradation was threatening environmental sustainability as well as Pakistan’s ability to tackle poverty.

About the role of Port Qasim Authority, he said it had prioritised environmental betterment over the last few years now and was focusing on what was called responsible development.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020