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KARACHI, May 13: The Ministry of Environment has finalised the draft of the country's first climate change policy which will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

According to officials of the ministry, the draft policy was approved at a core group meeting on April 26, presided over by Environment Minister Samina Khalid Ghurki.

Climate experts, scientists, government officials and members of civil society organisations have recommended about 120 policy initiatives to ensure a better, viable blueprint to deal with the issues of climate change being faced by the country at different levels.

Among key recommendations, the policy proposes to constitute a

National Climate Change Commission for coordinating activities at national and international levels, develop an effective monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system for assessment of emission mitigation and change in land use system so as to make full use of the facilities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

(UNFCCC) and United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) facilities.

Environmentalists and climate change experts have dubbed the approval of the policy by the environment ministry a 'landmark achievement', which provides a clear vision and direction for the country to combat climate change and its effects.

Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, adviser for Meteorology and Climate Affairs at the Meteorological Department, is the architect of the draft policy document.

He told this writer that work had been initiated to hammer out a detailed 'National Climate Change Action Plan' for implementation of the policy.

Dr Chaudhry said: “Increased investment in research for climate change mitigation and adaptation is another core area of focus of the national climate change policy.

Other main areas of research and investment to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation would be water conservancy, food and energy security and reduction of risks emanating from expected rise in frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods, droughts, tropical storms, etc.”

He said that appropriate digital simulation models would be developed for assessment of climate change impacts on physical, chemical, biological and financial facets of agricultural production systems.

Besides, a part of adaptation different research plans would be launched for development of new high-yield, heat-resistant and drought tolerant varieties of seed; introduction of better breeds of livestock having higher productivity of milk and meat and promotion and adoption of sustainable land management practices, he added.

“Other efforts to be taken under the policy include strengthening national climate change science related institutions and universities, developing climate change curricula with particular emphasis on Disaster Risk Reduction and introducing it into formal education system at all level and ensuring institutional strengthening of the existing climate change section, Clean Development Mechanism Cell and relevant institutions dealing with REDD matters.”

Shakil Ahmad Ramay, climate change analyst at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), an independent think-tank based in Islamabad, has termed the absence of national security factor in the draft a major flaw.

“Given the realisation that climate change today poses a grave threat to the country's socio-economic security and prosperity, absence of the national security risk factor in NCCP is a major policy flaw,” he highlighted.