ISLAMABAD: While the $10 billion international commitments for Pakistan’s post-flood recovery and rehabilitation is likely to mature, the country needs to go for institutional and governance reforms to combat the challenges of climate change in the long-run.

Speakers at a webinar, “the Geneva roadmap for a climate resilient Pakistan”, suggested that a country-wide efficient adaptation plan shall be worked out on a bottom-up approach alongside religiously implementation of conservation strategies.

The webinar was organised by Development Communications Network.

Climate change expert Ali Tauqeer Sheikh was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included Lahore Garrison University Assistant Professor International Relations Dr Zainab Ahmed, economist at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Dr Khalid Mahmood and climate advocacy specialist Zahra Khalid Haque.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said the UN and Pakistan co-hosted the ‘International conference on climate resilient Pakistan’ on January 9 at Geneva to present a $31.2 billion “Resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction framework (4RF)”, which lays out a multi-sectoral strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction in a climate-resilient and inclusive manner.

The other key objective was to secure international support and forge long-term partnerships for building Pakistan’s climate resilience and adaptation. He said it was the first ever UN donor conference at Geneva to raise funds for any country.

Pakistan needed to act wisely to safeguard its climate vulnerable communities with a stronger local governance system.

The inclusive bottom-up approach, and multi-stakeholder monitoring for transparency will support sustainable recovery and rehabilitation.

Ali Tauqeer Sheikh said: “Resilient development is not possible without institutional reforms. The urgency is staring us in the face with a current price tag of 8 per cent GDP loss and projected GDP shrinking 20pc by 2050.”

In fact, resilience, reforms and economic development have become intrinsically linked. Pakistan’s existing political and economic systems breed climate vulnerability, made worse by food and water insecurity, degraded land and polluted air. The proposition is relatively straightforward: higher degree of preparedness can help us avoid public and private losses from climate-induced disasters.”

Dr Zainab Ahmed said the devastating floods of 2022 were an environmental issue but implications were geographic, economic, political, security and social.

“The resultant crisis multiplies the already existing water, food, energy and economic problems which connects with social problems translating into political crises.

Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change was long ago recognised by the international community and $40 billion was estimated for environment mitigation and adaptation measures.

Pakistan has shown huge resilience always but it requires a lot more support. It’s a global war which Pakistan should not be fighting alone,” she said.

Zahra Khalid Haque said the Geneva conference offered Pakistan a rare opportunity to leap towards climate-compatible development.

“The Geneva roadmap relates to meeting the immediate challenges of recovery and reconstruction, requiring minimum funding of 16.3 billion dollars over a period of three years. Pakistan would meet half the funding from its own resources but will count on the continued assistance of its bilateral and multilateral partners to bridge the gap,” she said.

Dr Khalid Mahmood said Pakistan was at a difficult time in terms of economic management.

“With increasing geo-political uncertainty resulting in falling economic growth around the world, our economy is also feeling the pressure of contraction. While being prone to climate change and recurring natural disasters our economic woes have further exacerbated with a devastating flood. Our fiscal position is weak along with dwindling foreign reserves,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2023

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