• PM to unveil comprehensive post-disaster framework, says millions looking for ‘compassion’ to rebuild lives
• Shehbaz, UN chief to co-host conference

ISLAMABAD: As Pakis­tan still reels from the impact of disastrous floods which submerged more than one-third of the country, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Geneva to co-host the ‘International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan’ alongside UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday (today).

The purpose of the moot — to be attended by heads of state and government and other stakeholders — is to marshal international support to rehabilitate the population affected by super floods and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner.

The day-long conference will have two-fold objectives, during which the ‘Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Recons­truction Framework’ (4RF) will be launched. The framework comprises institutional, financial and implementation arrangements for the post-flood recovery, besides international support to forge long-term partnerships to achieve climate resilience.

The first part of the conference will feature high-level opening segments co-chaired by PM Sharif and Mr Guterres, with the official launch of 4RF, and partner support announcements. At this stage, donors and other partners are expected to outline support and funding commitment to the 4RF.

The second part of the conference will explore concrete ways to build long-term climate resilience and adaptation, including the articulation of provincial perspectives. There will be a joint press stakeout by Mr Sharif and Mr Guterres at the end of the preliminary session in addition to a luncheon.

4RF rebuilding plan

There will be a presentation of the conference outcomes in form of a co-chairs’ summary and announcement of an International Partner Group, comprising interested UN member states, as a follow-up to the conference.

The 4RF, Pakistan’s strategic policy document is a follow-up document to the government-led Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) that was prepared with the help of global institutions. As per the PDNA estimates, total damages and economic losses top $30 billion while needs for rehabilitation and resilient reconstruction are assessed at over $16 billion.

The 4RF will form the basis for the government’s comprehensive disaster recovery plans. It presents sequenced priorities across sectors around four strategic recovery objectives (SRO), a policy framework, a financing strategy, and implementation and monitoring arrangements.

The 4RF is a critical starting point to that transformational measures are taken for resilient recovery and that the disaster will not have multi-generational impacts through reduced developmental gains. It is also a foundation on which the country will build and strengthen long-term resilience to natural hazards and climate change.

In the 4RF, strategic prioritisation of interventions across all sectors, along with stakeholder mapping and resource mobilisation planning, were initiated. The needs were prioritised based on criteria, such as urgency, institutional capacity, and financial feasibility.

The identified activities prioritise the urgent needs of affected populations and will take an inclusive, participatory, and conflict-sensitive approach, ensuring an efficient, equitable, coordinated, and transparent delivery that is led by the government and supported by the international community.

The Strategic Recovery Objectives (SROs) include broad priority activities and programmes for flood recovery and will form the basis for further fine-tuning of the priorities for project proposals and investment opportunities.

The four SROs are: to enhance governance and the capacities of the state institutions to restore the lives and livelihoods of the affected people; ensure social inclusion and participation; and restore and improve basic services and physical infrastructure in a resilient and sustainable manner.

A summary of the cost of four SRO shows the total cost would be $16 billion, including immediate and short-term (immediate and short-term up to one year), medium-term (up to three years) and long-term (up to seven years).

As climate change accelerates the severity and frequency of disasters, institutional reforms and investments must go beyond business as usual and instead “build back better” and develop systemic resilience.

As per global best practice, a credible recovery strategy is critical for effective and coherent reconstruction and for optimum resource mobilisation and utilisation, the document added.

“This is a pivotal moment for the global community to stand with Pakistan and to commit to a resilient and inclusive recovery from these devastating floods,” said UN Development Programme’s Pakistan Representative Knut Ostby.

‘Build back better’

Before departure, the prime minister urged the world community that millions of Pakistanis, affected by unprecedented devastation due to floods, looked for the world’s compassion and solidarity to have their own shelter again and meet the losses that had suffered.

In a series of his tweets before leaving for the conference, the PM said: “Millions of Pakistanis, affected by unprecedented devastation due to floods, looked for compassion and solidarity to build back better.”

“Humanity is at an inflection point in world history. Our actions today will shape the resilient future for our succeeding generations,” the prime minister posted on his Twitter handle.

He said that he would take the opportunity to present the case of flood victims before the world. “I will also throw light on steps my govt. has taken for relief & rehabilitation,” he further posted.

The prime minister said that in the conference they would place a comprehensive post-disaster framework plan for recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction with resilience before development partners and friendly countries.

“Bridging the funding gap is key to restoring critical infrastructure, rebuilding lives & livelihoods & reviving the economy,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2023

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