Govt remains dedicated to addressing challenges of climate change: PM Imran

Published May 27, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a  ceremony in Haripur. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony in Haripur. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that his government remained dedicated in its endeavour to addresses the challenges of climate change.

Addressing a ceremony in Haripur in connection with the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, the premier said that the initiative originally began in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. "We remain dedicated to the cause and are trying to improve the environment in different ways."

He said Pakistan will be hosting World Environment Day on June 5. "This is a great honour and acknowledgement of the fact that Pakistan is among a handful of countries trying to reduce the impact of climate change and global warming.

"We are not doing this for show. We are doing this so that we can leave behind a better country for our future generations. The biggest impact of climate change is that it will affect our future generation."

The premier said Pakistan was among the top ten countries most at risk from climate change. "The water in our rivers comes from glaciers. And if the rate at which they are melting continues, we will have to face many issues."

This is also the situation in India, he said, adding that the Ganges River also depended on glaciers.

"So through our efforts, we are trying to slow down the impact of climate change, and we want to leave behind a country for our future generations the way it was when I was growing up."

The Pakistan I grew up in had a lot of forest cover and wildlife while the cities were also manageable, he said. "With time, we caused harm to our cities due to a lack of long-term thinking."

PM Imran said when he first visited Singapore, the river was like a sewerage drain. "Now if you look at it, the river has fish. They have cleaned it up. So it can be reversed. This is what we are trying to do [...] we are trying to restore our environment and wetlands."

Giving the example of Dera Ismail Khan, the prime minister said waterlogged land had been turned into a jungle. "Because of that wildlife and birds have returned to the area. People's livelihoods have also increased," he said, adding that this would also benefit tourism.

The premier concluded his address by stating that on World Environment Day, Pakistan would highlight how it was trying to reverse the impact of climate change.

He also planted the "billionth tree" at Makhniyal forest area to show its "significance as [Ten Billion Tree Tsunami's] first deodar plant was planted here in September 2018".

Pakistan to host World Environment Day this year

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

Environmental issues being faced by Pakistan and initiatives taken to mitigate them 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.

The government, in one of the world’s most ambitious afforestation efforts, plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through 10 Billion Tree Tsunami programme 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.

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