Pakistan on Monday raised more than $9 billion at an international conference seeking support for its recovery from last year’s devastating floods — a billion more than requested.
The pledges came as the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan kicked off in Geneva. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif co-hosted the conference along with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The purpose of the day-long moot — attended by heads of state and government and other stakeholders — was to marshal international support to rehabilitate the population affected by super floods and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner.
During the conference, PM Shehbaz sought $8bn from Pakistan’s international partners over the next three years to rebuild the country as Guterres called for massive support to aid the rebuilding effort.
Participants appeared to heed PM Shehbaz’s call, with hundreds of millions of dollars promised even before the pledging part of the conference had begun.
An outcome document issued at the day’s end noted that delegations recalled their assistance to immediate relief efforts and affirmed their support to the people of Pakistan for a resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Delegations expressed their solidarity and announced commitments of financial support to the realisation of the objectives and priority areas outlined in the recovery plan, as well as to ongoing humanitarian efforts, the document said.
“Taken as a whole these commitments totalled more than $9bn, from both bilateral and multi-lateral partners. Further announcements for in-kind support were made by several delegations,” it said.
At the closing of the conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said commitments totalled “more than $9bn”.
“Today has truly been a day which gives us great hope. The message from the world is clear: The world will stand by those who go through any natural calamities, and will not leave them alone,” she said.
Earlier, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the first plenary of the conference had culminated in a “generous outpouring” from the international community.
“The European Union pledged $93 million, Germany $88m, China $100m, Islamic Development Bank $4.2 billion, World Bank $2bn, Japan $77m, Asian Development Bank $1.5bn, USAID $100m, France $345m,” she said on Twitter.
As the second plenary of the climate conference began, the minister said the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) had pledged $1bn.
In a subsequent tweet, she added that Saudi Arabia had pledged $1bn for Pakistan’s efforts to rebuild.
‘Race against time’
In his opening address at the conference, the premier said that Pakistan needed $8bn from its international partners over the next three years to rebuild the country.
The premier recalled that Pakistan witnessed a “monsoon on steroids this year” that affected 30m people, displaced more than eight million and washed away roads spread over 8,000 kilometres.
“One can go on and on but to truly say, we are racing against time. We are thankful for the support extended to us by the Asian Development Bank, UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and several other international organisations.”
PM Shehbaz said that apart from the aid Pakistan received for flood rehabilitation, the state had “responded courageously” to the disaster.
“They saved thousands of lives and quickly restored disrupted communications […] we will have to keep making tough choices and I am painfully aware that harsher reforms will make lives harsher than ever before,” he pointed out, contending that the “resource gap” was so wide that it had to be reshaped.
The premier went on to say that his government had prepared a comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and resilience — the 4RF.
“The first part of the plan reflects the recovery and reconstruction, bearing in mind that the minimum funding of $16.3bn is required, half of which will be met with domestic resources, half from foreign resources.”
He explained that the second part of the plan incorporated flood-resilient design and infrastructure, such as protecting highways and early warning systems, of which $8bn would be required over three years.
“I am asking for your support for those who have lost their life savings, homes, and livelihoods and are facing the harsh winter under open skies.
“I am asking for a sustained international support plan to meet this daunting challenge, for a new lifeline for these people. Together we have to rebuild their lives and their dreams,” he said.
‘Pakistan doubly victimised by climate change’
In his opening remarks at the Geneva moot, Guterres urged the international community for “massive investments” to help Pakistan. “No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan,” the secretary general said.
He stressed that rebuilding Pakistan in a resilient way would require $16bn but added that “far more” would be required in the long run.
Guterres went on to say that the people of Pakistan were “doubly victimised” by climate disasters and “morally bankrupt” global financial systems. “This system routinely denies middle-income countries of debt relief and concessional relief needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters.”
Hence, he pointed out, there was a need for creative ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing.
“We need to be honest about the brutal injustice suffered by developing countries due to climate change. If there is any doubt about loss and damage, go to Pakistan. The devastation of climate change is real.”
Later in the day, PM Shehbaz and Guterres addressed a joint press conference where the two reiterated the need for the global community to aid Pakistan’s recovery.
The premier that “hefty amounts” had been announced at today’s conference, assuring the donors that they would be spent transparently. “I’ve put in place a third-party mechanism so that every penny is accounted for.”
‘Turkiye stands ready to contribute to immediate needs of victims’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said that Turkiye was ready to contribute to meeting the immediate needs of disaster victims in Pakistan, as well as supporting the reconstruction process.
In a video statement at the conference, he recalled how Turkish people stood by the Pakistani people through their difficult days and would continue to do so in the future.
President Erdogan highlighted that the country sent “more than 7500 tonnes of humanitarian aid” on 15 planes and 13 trains when the disaster hit Pakistan.
He added that the country had “shared the products we obtained locally, with the victims [of the floods]” along with sending two ships containing more than 1,630 tonnes of humanitarian aid.
“The disaster demonstrates what devastation climate change can cause,” the Turkish president concluded.
Will need support for the next several years: Bilawal
In his address at the climate conference, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that Pakistan would need considerable support over the next several years to implement a comprehensive plan for flood recovery.
“At least half of the framework plan will be implemented from our resources,” he told the moot.
Bilawal vowed that the government would transform the challenge of recovery and reconstruction into an opportunity to build a more resilient Pakistan and economy which is dynamic and sustainable.
“We are determined to do it in an open, transparent, and collaborative way. The rationale for this conference is to express international solidarity with Pakistan as it begins its journey towards building back better.”
He expressed gratitude to the UN for convening the conference. “We remain steadfast in responding to the emergency needs of the affected population and the reconstruction of affected infrastructure.”