Provincial Stakeholders Convene for Nature-Based Solutions Across the Indus River Basin

Posted on 12 August 2021

Lahore, 12 August 2021: WWF-Pakistan convened a consultative multi-stakeholder workshop for the endorsement of sites and interventions and to get feedback from the stakeholders on pre-feasibility studies so as to apply nature-based solutions for ecosystem restoration and flood risk reduction. Public and private stakeholders from across the province attended the workshop, which included presentations on the Recharge Pakistan programme by senior WWF officials and a discussion on the findings of the pre-feasibility study by WaterSprint Limited (WSL), the project consultant hired by WWF-Pakistan. 
The Recharge Pakistan programme is a joint initiative of the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change, Federal Flood Commission, under the Ministry of Water Resources, and WWF-Pakistan. This programme enables unprecedented collaboration between several government entities, WWF-Pakistan and other stakeholders, to promote nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation across Pakistan’s Indus River Basin. 
Speaking about the programme, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan stated that “Typically, we have focused on hardcore, grey infrastructure. However, this must be supplemented by nature-based solutions when we talk about climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Recharge Pakistan is a flagship programme, which aims to increase water storage and groundwater recharge through floodplain and wetlands management, and hill torrent management while building the resilience of vulnerable communities through climate-adapted, community-based natural resource management.” He added that the project is now at a critical stage, where details of sites and interventions are under consideration. “It is important to evaluate and select intervention sites on a scientific basis and we are fortunate that relevant government departments and a wide array of stakeholders from the non-profit sector, academia and research, are contributing towards this and taking ownership of the programme”. 
Dr Masood Arshad, Senior Director Water, Food and Climate, WWF-Pakistan delivered a detailed presentation about the key components of the programme; including flood risk management, enhancing the resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change and enabling a paradigm shift towards ecosystem-based adaptation in Pakistan. He also highlighted how the programme had evolved through a consensus-based approach, with a heavy emphasis on engagement with key stakeholders, ranging from national and sub-national government entities, development partners and donors, research organizations and the international WWF network. 
During the session, Muhammad Abid, Principal Advisor, WaterSprint Limited, and Advisor to the Prime Minister, shared and discussed the findings of the pre-feasibility study with the participants of the workshop and solicited their feedback to develop a consensus around site selection for the project in Punjab. 
During his closing remarks, Ghulam Zakir Sial, Director Irrigation Research Institute, Lahore, acknowledged and appreciated the efforts being put into the project by different stakeholders across the public and private sectors and the active participation of community representatives from rural and remote areas. “This is a national cause as the project will enhance our climate resilience, improve agriculture and livelihoods, and boost the economy and GDP growth.”
The workshop was attended by representatives from WaterSprint Limited; the Irrigation Department Punjab; Mines and Mineral Department Punjab; Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR); Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA); Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA); National Engineering Services Pakistan Private Limited (NESPAK); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore; Center for Water Informatics and Technology, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS); Government College University (GCU), Lahore; Doaba Foundation, HELP Foundation, Caritas, Helping Hands, and a few individual consultants and researchers etc. 
This multi-stakeholder workshop is the fourth in a series of provincial workshops conducted across the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh. These meetings and discussions will enable a collective endorsement for Recharge Pakistan project sites and nature-based interventions, through a bottoms-up approach for further endorsement at the national level, with the executing entities, i.e., the Ministry of Climate Change and the Federal Flood Commission, under the Ministry of Water Resources. These sessions will feed into the identification of the scope of the project and contribute towards improved implementation of the Recharge Pakistan project activities.
Hammad Naqi Khan, DG WWF-Pakistan speaking during the event.
© WWF-Pakistan