The Government of Pakistan, under the auspices of Planning Commission, in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organized a half-day Seminar titled: “Strategic Environmental Assessment – in the context of Framework for Economic Growth – Taking the bull by the horns”, at the Planning Commission Auditorium, Islamabad.
The seminar was organized under the ongoing National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP) being jointly implemented by the Government of Pakistan and IUCN. The seminar was attended by senior government officials, civil society representatives, lawmakers, statisticians, academia, media and eminent personalities. The seminar aimed at sensitization of senior decision makers and other stakeholders on the role of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in development planning. Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan chaired the session as the chief guest while Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Advisor, Science and Technology, and Mr. Ghulam Mohayuddin Marri, Member (Infrastructure), Planning Commission of Pakistan were also present at the occassion.
The seminar was organized under the ongoing National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP) being jointly implemented by the Government of Pakistan and IUCN. The programme aims to contribute to sustainable development in Pakistan by strengthening Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and introducing Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Pakistan’s development planning process. NIAP has four partners namely: the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA); Environment Wing, Ministry of Environment; Environment Section, Planning Commission and IUCN Pakistan. Technical assistance to the programme is being provided by the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) while the project is being funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN).
Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan briefly addressed the seminar he marked that environment has always been a subject of great concern. Talking about the new document on ‘Framework for Economic Growth’ he mentioned that environment has deliberately been left out since environment is a crosscutting subject and by having a chapter on it will marginalize its importance. He stressed on the need of thinking differently we cannot ignore one subject and address the other, everything is inter-related and we need to address all the issues very tactfully. He also addressed on the need for involving the youth in all the developmental process so as to make development more sustainable.
Mr. Ghulam Mohyuddin Marri welcomed the participants and highlighting that the Planning Commission has been a trendsetter in introducing and promoting environment. He mentioned Planning commission’s involvement in the development of the National Conservation Strategy. Talking about the project, he said NIAP is a unique initiative striving to meet development goals in a sustainable manner. He emphasized on the need for introducing Strategic Environmental Assessment in the development planning process of the Government of Pakistan.
Dr. Aurangzeb Khan, National Project Director NIAP, gave an overview of the project, he highlighted the process through which the NIAP was launched, he also outlined the aims, objectives and outcomes of the project, explained that the key objective is to promote Environmental Impact Assessment and to introduce understanding of SEA among relevant stakeholders. He updated the gathering about the process through which SEA is being integrated in the planning process. He also highlighted the major challenges faced by the project.
Syed Tanveer Hussain, Project Director, National Trade Corridor (NTC) Project made a detailed presentation on the ‘Strategic Environmental, Poverty and Social Assessment (SEPSA) of the trade and transport sector reforms’ under the project. He gave an overview of the transport sector and various transport projects being carried out in the country. He also highlighted the inefficiencies and key problems in the transport sector and their environmental and social impacts. He informed the meeting that keeping these issues in mind the a Strategic Environmental, Poverty and Social Assessment (SEPSA) of trade and transport reforms has been undertaken in collaboration with the World Bank to identify likely impacts of trade and transport reforms to avoid or reduce negative impacts. He further mentioned that SEPSA aimed to analyze policy & institutional adjustments and to make recommendations for improving the reforms.
Mr. Rob Verheem, Deputy Director, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), delivered a detailed presentation on SEA and Pakistan’s New Growth Strategy. Mr. Verheem noted that Dutch and Pakistan need to learn a lot from each other. He said that while going through the ‘Framework for Economic Growth’ he noted that conducting an SEA at this level can be very beneficial for the strategy as it will ensure sustainable development in the country. His presentation focused on lessons learned globally regarding SEA, he mentioned that SEA is a mandatory requirement in the entire developed world while it is in the pilot stages in many counties of the countries in the developing world. He explained in detail how SEA can be useful and help Pakistan achieve economic growth without compromising on environment.
Mr. Jawed Ali Khan, Director General Environment, Ministry of National Disaster Management, highlighted the process through which SEA has been introduced in Pakistan. He mentioned that SEA was first conducted by the World Bank in 2007, the findings of which showed that Environmental damage costs 6 per cent of the GDP. He further stressed that all policies approved or under review by the cabinet should be subjected to SEA. These policies should also be aligned with the Framework for Economic Growth so that we can bring sustainable development in the country
The presentations were followed by an interactive and informative discussion and Question and Answer session in which the participants expressed their views and opinions on the introduction of SEA into the planning process particularly in context of the Framework for Economic Growth. The need for introducing SEA at all levels was discussed and stress was laid on the need for improving implementation of policies and plans and making SEA a legal requirement.
While making the closing remarks and winding up the meeting, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed, Senior Advisor Climate Change and Development highlighted that Pakistan is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and global warming. He stressed on the need to address climate change in a new context especially after the devolvement of the ministry of environment and in light of the New Growth Strategy of the Planning Commission. He highlighted that our planet is becoming warmer and more crowded each day that is why we need to conserve our resources and devise strategies that are drought and flood resilient. He appreciated the role of IUCN and the Planning Commission, IUCN and NCEA in making SEA a practicable tool in Pakistan.
On behalf of IUCN Mr. Mehmood Akhtar Cheema thanked the guests and the participants for taking out time and making the seminar successful.
For more Information please contact:
Arfa Zaheer Azmat
Deputy Project Manager/ Advocacy Coordinator -NIAP
Islamabad Programme Office
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources- Pakistan
H. No 21, Street 88, Sector G- 6/ 3
Tel: +92 51 2271027- 34
Fax: +92 51 2271017