Posted on 05 November 2021
Islamabad, 5 November 2021: Climate change is not simply a carbon issue, but one that impacts biodiversity, water, livelihoods and the economy. Fragile to the effects of climate change, Pakistan must act now to adapt and protect its frontline communities and its economy. This was stressed by a distinguished panel of experts at a session titled ‘Glasgow and Beyond: Securing a Climate Resilient Future’, organized by WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association (PBSA). The aim of the session was to highlight the issues being discussed at COP26, the global climate change conference underway in Glasgow, and deliberate on what the ongoing discussions and decisions mean for Pakistan; one of the top ten countries vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Moderated by Dr Imran Saqib Khalid, Director Governance and Policy, WWF-Pakistan, the diverse panel included Annabel Gerry, Country Director for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) UK; Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan; Dr Asif Khattak, Assistant Professor, University of Peshawar; Kashmala
Kakakhel, Climate Expert; and Anam Rathor, Climate Activist.
The discussion revolved around the topography and micro-climatic zones in Pakistan, greenhouse gas emissions and their link to temperature rise, climate change as a social justice issue and possible actions, including highlighting frontline communities, climate finance, etc. Experts stressed on the fact that despite contributing one per cent to global emissions, Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which impacts livelihoods and communities. For Pakistan, this means that ‘adaptation’ is the challenge, which requires a complete overhaul of the system.
Speaking on the topic, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said the issue could not be ignored anymore. For environmental organizations like the WWF, this means working with the most vulnerable communities, including farmers, fishermen, etc., to build their capacity and help them adapt to challenges. “For us, climate change is water change. Our economy depends on water. More than 90 per cent of the freshwater available to us is used for agriculture, whereas the remaining is utilized in industries or domestic use. We are already a water-stressed country, and with changing monsoon patterns and the growing demand for water from all these sectors; there is an urgent need to change agricultural practices and develop and implement policies that address the challenges we are beginning to face”.
Talking about a multi-faceted approach to tackling the problem, Annabel Gerry, Country Director FCDO UK, said that “we need young people, civil society, academics, government and the private sector to play their roles so that research can be translated into policy and implemented accordingly”. She went on to speak about how the FCDO has changed its approach from a humanitarian response around climatic catastrophes towards focusing on building resilience and how communities respond to them. “The challenge will be to keep this momentum going after COP26, but there is ground for optimism as all stakeholders are now taking this issue seriously.”
It was highlighted that COP 26, which comes against the backdrop of widespread, rapid and intensifying climate change impacts, is a crucial opportunity to achieve pivotal and transformational change in global climate policy and action. It demands a holistic approach and concerted efforts by all the countries to achieve the set targets and goals, with the need to build back better for present and future generations to ensure a safe future.
Iftikhar Ahmad, National Secretary PBSA concluded the session by thanking WWF-Pakistan for coordinating and moderating the discussion. He added that the Pakistan Boy Scouts have always maintained a focus on environment and conservation and have played a positive role through tree plantation drives and environmental awareness campaigns.