ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will host World Environment Day this year to mark the launch of United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was informed on Monday.

Environmental issues being faced by Pakistan and initiatives taken to mitigate it will be highlighted. The day will be celebrated across the world through various events and activities under Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said: “Pakistan has shown real leadership in efforts to restore the country’s forests; we are grateful for their commitment to host World Environment Day 2021 and lead the charge for all nations to restore our damaged ecosystems through the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.”

The theme for the day this year will be ecosystem restoration, with a special focus on creating a good relationship with nature.

Making the announcement at the virtual fifth UN Environment Assembly, Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam joined Ms Andersen to acknowledge the urgency of preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.

Govt committed towards playing leadership role in addressing climate change issue, PM’s aide says

The government, in one of the world’s most ambitious afforestation efforts, plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through a ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ spread over five years. The campaign includes restoring mangroves and forests, as well as planting trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks and greenbelts.

Pakistan has launched the Eco-System Restoration Fund for supporting nature-based solutions to climate change, facilitating the transition towards environmentally-resilient initiatives covering afforestation and biodiversity conservation, he said, adding 15 model protected areas are being developed across the country to conserve over 7,300 square kilometres of land which will create over 5,500 green jobs.

“The government is fully committed towards playing a leadership role in addressing the issue of climate change, including through the 10 Billion Trees Tsunami initiative, which will restore and enhance over one million hectares of forest land across the country. We are honoured to host this year’s World Environment Day and lend our support to global restoration efforts,” Mr Aslam said.

“The world faced many crises in 2020 including the pandemic,” Ms Anderson pointed out, adding that restoration of nature is imperative to the survival of our planet and the human race.

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration intends to scale up restoration of degraded ecosystems in order to fight the climate crisis, prevent loss of a million species and enhance food security.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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