ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Climate Change and the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for use of satellite imagery received by Suparco to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the MoU will provide an overall clearer picture of the current glacial lakes and associated threats.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change Joudat Ayaz, who is also the national project director of GLOF-II, and Suparco director Brig Tahir Islam signed the MoU.

A managing committee consisting of members from the climate change ministry and Suparco was also formed. The second phase of the Glacier Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF) project of the UNDP will also have representation in the committee.

The GLOF-II project is a continuation of the four-year scheme called ‘Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from GLOF in Northern Pakistan’ and aims to help vulnerable communities to prepare for and mitigate risks through early warning systems, and enhanced infrastructure- and community-based disaster risk management.

Supported by the Green Climate Fund, the project is working to strengthen public services and empower communities to identify and manage risks associated with glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF)and related impacts of climate change.

Due to rising temperatures, glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountain ranges (the Hindu Kush, Himalayas and Karakorum) are melting rapidly and a total of 3,044 glacial lakes have developed in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Of these, 33 glacial lakes are said to be prone to hazardous glacial lake outburst flooding.

GLOFs are sudden events which can release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, leading to the loss of lives, property and livelihoods among remote and impoverished mountain communities.

Over 7.1 million people in GB and KP are vulnerable; in these areas, 26.7 per cent and 22pc of the population, respectively, are living below the poverty line.

The MoU, which will remain in force for three years from the signing date, also covers promotion of joint activities of mutual interest and future collaboration in accordance with the respective needs and objectives addressed in the memorandum.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021

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