• Pakistan hosts main ceremony of World Environment Day
• British PM, UN official praise tree tsunami project
• UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration to help create jobs
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world to fight back for ecosystem restoration during the next decade and urged the rich countries to assist the poor states in bearing the brunt of the former’s immense carbon emissions.
“Pakistan has minimal contribution in carbon emission. The rich countries responsible for huge carbon emission have the responsibility to at least provide funds so that the countries like ours may fight global warming and improve our environment. The issue is resources gap,” he said while addressing the main ceremony of World Environment Day hosted by Pakistan.
Telecast globally, the event featured special messages of Chinese President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and address by Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Inger Anderson besides Minister of State Zartaj Gul and Special Assistant to the PM Amin Aslam.
Held at the beautifully adorned Convention Centre with themed green ambiance created by plants and decorations, the event was attended by the federal ministers, parliamentarians and diplomats from various countries.
A huge number of forest guards were also present who earned huge applause from the audience as the prime minister acknowledged their efforts and sacrifices to preserve environment.
Explaining resource constraints in the country, Mr Khan said during the pandemic, Pakistan with a population of 220 million could scrape up only around $8 billion for relief package while 330 million nation of United States doled out a package of $4,000bn to its people.
He reiterated that the resource-rich countries should support the developing countries which were fighting the war of climate change.
He said Pakistan was also making efforts to further reduce its already minimal emissions by switching 30 per cent of its all vehicles to electric transmission and would ensure 60pc of its power generation through renewable resources by 2030.
He said it was an honour for Pakistan to host World Environment Day which depicted the recognition of the country’s efforts (to combat global warming) and its inclusion among few countries concerned for a better environment for next generations.
Nation urged to own initiatives
The prime minister urged the nation, particularly youth, to take responsibility of the environment-friendly initiatives to play their role in the world’s fight for ecosystem restoration during UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.
He said like the developing countries, teacher in Pakistan should create awareness on importance of trees to inculcate responsibility for environment conservation among the students.
He said unfortunately Pakistan had been among those countries where environment protection was nowhere among governments priorities. He recalled that since its inception till launch of One Billion Tree Tsunami project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013, the country had planted only 640 million trees.
However, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, after success of One Billion Tree Tsunami project, launched Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project and had planted first billion of the trees, he said.
He lamented massive deforestation, particularly in Chhanga Manga, Kundian, Chichawatni and Dipalpur, where the land mafias had occupied the forest land.
He said the United Nations Decade was an opportunity for the world to correct its course by fighting back pollution and to ensure clean water and reduced carbon emissions.
He said apart from measures introduced by Pakistan, some issues needed the world’s attention to reduce carbon emission leading to glacier melting posing threats to countries like Pakistan and Central Asia where rivers were fed by glaciers.
Prime Minister Khan said Covid-19 pandemic had made it clear that the world was interdependent with nothing bound by borders. Same was the case with global warming which was equally impacting the world, he added.
The premier apprised the gathering of his government’s future initiatives, including Recharge Pakistan — to divert floodwater to wetland for recharging water table and mangroves forestation which would also absorb carbon besides doing other functions for a healthy environment.
He repeatedly called for public participation in the environment projects to make the people stakeholders by giving them jobs and incentives, just like the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami which had provided 85,000 jobs so far.
The PM said the government had developed 15 national parks and special guards would be trained for their protection.
In his message read out by Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, Chinese President Xi Jinping said ecosystem restoration was essential to live in harmony with nature. He called for international community’s role for sustainable development.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his video message, spoke highly of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, saying: “I salute what Prime Minister Imran Khan is doing. I think 10 billion trees is a huge campaign.” He said the Covid-19 pandemic was mother nature’s revenge on humankind which could not maintain balance with nature.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in his video message, said the world was faced with a triple environmental emergency: biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution.
He said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration would help create millions of new jobs by 2030.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021