Press Release – Webinar on “Pakistan and the UN: A Partnership for Environmental Sustainability”

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Press Release

Webinar
on
“Pakistan and the UN: A Partnership for Environmental Sustainability”
October 15, 2020

The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP), Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a Webinar titled “Pakistan and the UN: A Partnership for Environmental Sustainability,” on October 15, 2020. The speakers at the webinar were: Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairman BoG, SDPI; Ms. Afia Salam, Freelance Journalist; Dr. Sanval Nasim, Assistant Professor of Economics, LUMS; Mr. Basharat Saeed, Water Resources Specialist at World Bank Group; and Ms. Komal Shakeel, Director at Profectus Advisory Services. The Webinar was moderated by Mr. Najam Rafique, Director CSP/Research at ISSI.

Welcoming the speakers and the participants, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that this webinar is in synergy with a series of programs by ISSI pursuant to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address at the 75th UNGA and the issues raised by him. Mitigating the disastrous impacts of Climate Change, he said, is an important topic of discussion. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries faced with the challenges of climate change, and in this regard, the PM also stressed on the need for universal action to deal with this menace.

Ambassador Kakakhel, during his address as Keynote Speaker said that “Climate change creates social, economic and political issues in the world and will continue to do so if not addressed adequately.” He further stressed that there are two most important issues of environmental sustainability. Firstly, how to prevent life threatening pollution, and secondly, how to reduce excessive use of fossil fuels to protect ecosystems. He also said that the UN is the most important multilateral organization in the world which brings to the table all countries in terms of signing of its agreements, conventions, laws and ensures their implementation. For Pakistan, he said, the government needs to develop a prioritized list of costed activities with local and international experts to efficiently implement climate change policies.

During her remarks, Ms. Salam said that the lack of coordination between government departments is hindering Pakistan in achieving environmental sustainability. There are seasonal responses to climate disasters, but the country needs to adopt an holistic approach so that we do not keep moving about in circles.

On the topic of environmental sustainability, Dr. Nasim, stated that there is a difference between climate change which is related to greenhouse emissions and environmental degradation which is a localized phenomenon. He said that the government is aware of the factors causing air and water pollution in Punjab and needs to address them at their core to prevent their recurrence.

Mr. Saeed spoke about water sustainability issues in Pakistan and said that there is a significant overlap between environment and water sustainability. He further added that we need to start downstream from the Indus Delta when dealing with the water availability issues and formulate policies accordingly. Investment is also required in waste management and sanitation to overcome water issues.

Ms. Shakeel emphasized that there is an issue of global financing of about USD 2 trillion with regard to the SDGs. In case of Pakistan, financial products needs to be looked at which help to alleviate financial bottlenecks. The government policies need to be better suited to address both planning and financial issues.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI, stated that the life of common citizen is impacted by climate change effects and environmental degradation. Awareness needs to be raised in Pakistan to better deal with this issue. Also, better coordination is required between federal and provincial governments which has been lacking after the passing of the 18th Amendment for Pakistan to achieve environmental sustainability.