IT was good to see Pakistan’s a sizeable entourage along with provincial representation at the International Conference on Climate Resilient, which it co-hosted with the United Nations. The issues got properly highlighted and the outcome was positive.
In this context, a report titled, ‘Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework Pakistan (4RF)’ was prepared by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives in December last year.
Given the critical nature of the subject matter, however, it was not clear if professional experts in relevant fields were involved at some level. Such fields included climate change and disaster management, health and environmental impacts, public policy and policy outreach, computational methods, sensing systems, and risk management. There is no doubt that only individuals with professional competence in these fields have the ability to come up with climate resilience solutions.
It is with the right policy frameworks formulated by leading experts — rare, though they are — that Pakistan can attract private investment to build its resilience, particularly in sectors such as water and flood management, coastal protection, water resource management, agriculture, urban infrastructure, municipal services, housing, and asset management.
The focus should be on looking beyond engineered flood defences, and considering innovative, nature-based solutions that support local biodiversity. The involvement of experts in power systems and smart grids who can tackle Pakistan’s energy challenges by enabling collaborative research, strategic partnerships, policy outreach, entrepreneurship, and education is necessary.
Pakistan needs fundamental shift in its development path and policies, requiring substantial investments in people-centric climate adaptation and resilience that will require international support. If we want to tackle climate change, we need to prioritise investing in adaptation to help prepare Pakistan for future climate-related calamities, which are growing in frequency and intensity.
Only climate experts, both local and global, can help us understand the climate risk and then respond to the critical challenge of enabling Pakistan to adapt and thrive in a changing world. This is where our climate resilience journey begins with the aid of techno-logy, big data analysis, and domain expertise.
The first step is understanding, quantifying and explaining the climate risk. Then, regardless of the task, like preventing flooding and erosion, protecting assets and infrastructure, and creating new policies and systems, we can plan and implement resilient solutions, and monitor their respective impacts to stay climate-resilient.
The combined risks of extreme climate-related events, environmental degradation and air pollution are projected to reduce Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) by at least 18-20 per cent by 2050. Pakistan is currently ranked among the countries most vulnerable to the widespread and cross-sectoral impacts of climate change.
Six priority sectors have been identified namely agriculture and food security, forest and biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water sanitation and hygiene, integrated coastal management, and energy and transport. We need to develop local expertise in collaboration with global experts and organisations to drive this urgent change.
Even if Pakistan’s carbon emissions are near 0.5 today, the climate will continue to change for at least a century. So, while achieving net zero is vital, despite the fossil fuel challenge, adapting to climate change is equally important. We cannot hold back the changing climate. But we can implement adaptation measures to become resilient and be able to mitigate the overall risk.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.