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Development at the cost of environment regretted

December 29, 2011

Development projects in the country are executed without considering their human and environmental impact: social scientists. - Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD : Development projects in the country are often executed without considering their human and environmental impact and sustainable development can only be achieved by putting people and environment at the heart of development process.

This was stated by experts and social scientists belonging to Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), here Wednesday in a meeting with students and academics of Sustainable Development Study Centre (SDSC) of Government College University, Lahore, who visited the institute.

However, the SDPI officials stressed for collaboration between universities and research institutions for academic research on different aspects of sustainable development and also called upon the students to come forward and get involved in the various research works.

Arshad H Abbasi, Senior Advisor, Water and Energy at SDPI informed the delegation about the work related to food insecurity, water, energy and environment done by the institute.

He said that development projects that ignore human and environmental aspects have disastrous consequences for both people and the environment.

“The New Murree project launched during Gen Musharraf’s regime was an environmental disaster which was technically challenged by the institute’s research reports,” he said and highlighted that the institute’s research and advocacy work created awareness and mobilised stakeholders as a result of which the Supreme Court of Pakistan took sue motto notice and ordered abandoning of this project.

“Sustainable Development Policy Institute saved ancient conifer forest reserve on 34,000 acres which acted as monsoon rains harvester for the water and environmental needs of this area,” he said.

Mr Abbasi also shared some of other recognised works of his institute such as consolidated work on Indus Water Treaty and protection of Himalayan glaciers.

Shakeel Ahmad Ramey, Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Center at SDPI highlighted that Pakistan is actively negotiating at international forums that currently focus on ‘green economy’ and ‘institutional framework for sustainable development’.

He clarified that these approaches are just an instrument to achieve the sustainable development.

During the question-answer session, students raised several issues such as public policies, weak environmental governance in Pakistan, and North-dominated global debates on sustainable development, and side-effects of dependency on foreign aid.

Faisal Nadeem Gorchani of Sustainable Development Policy Institute said that the research institutions in Pakistan have always struggled to protect public interest through their policy research and advocacy, networking, lobbying and social and political movements. “The struggle will continue as it aims to obtain people’s supremacy over country’s decision-making and implementing institutions,” he added.

He said crisis of non-representative governments and their deep penetration into economic, social, political and other institutions have created a strong culture of non-participatory, non-consultative and non-transparent public policies which eventually benefit the ruling elite and market forces at the cost of its people especially the vulnerable and marginalised sections of society.