Climate Change poses serious security threats for Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan, 15 February, 2008 (IUCN) – The official launch of the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) on Climate Change was held on February 15, 2008 at the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The ceremony was attended by a wide range of stakeholders, including government officials, subject specialists, academics, research institutions, civil society and private sector representatives.
Funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Department for International Development, U.K., TAP is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Environment, Government of Pakistan, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The panel brings together different organizations working on climate change on a single platform to provide active support to government in addressing climate change challenges.
The panel is also mandated to undertake capacity building and awareness raising activities among stakeholders and the general public. Currently, TAP comprises six organizations: Ministry of Environment, Global Change Impact Studies Centre, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Asia Pacific Network and IUCN, the last also serving as the TAP secretariat.
Welcoming the participants, Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment stated that climate change and its impacts can endanger the social, economic and political security of the country. The lack of an enabling policy, regulatory framework and vulnerability assessments plus inadequate capacity to reduce impact and risks of Climate Change, particularly to livelihoods of the poor, are some of the challenges that need to be urgently addressed, opined Bhutta. He appeared hopeful that TAP would provide the requisite input to government to combat the threat of climate change.
Sohail Malik, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan, presented a short overview of TAP. He added that TAP will essentially build capacity of government and other institutions in mitigating the negative impacts of climate change.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony Sissel Volan, Minister Counsellor for the Royal Norwegian Embassy reiterated that the Norwegian government will continue to support the Government of Pakistan in all possible ways to combat serious threats posed by the climate change phenomena.
Ms. Nikhat Sattar, Head, Country Group II, IUCN Asia Region noted that the South Asian region, particularly countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan are very vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. These impacts are likely to affect the agriculture, forestry, biodiversity and water resources of the region as well as the coastal areas, human settlements, energy generation potential and industrial growth. Developing countries and within them, the poor and their livelihoods are likely to be most disproportionately affected. She stressed the need for the assessment of climate change impacts and the integration of climate change aspects across all sectors, without which it would not be possible to achieve progress toward the MDGs. Ms. Sattar opined that the adoption of a two pronged approach is essential to combating climate change effectively – that of developing knowledge and taking actions. This is particularly relevant for our part of the world where knowledge regarding the impacts of climate change is very scarce. It is also extremely important for developing countries to play a proactive role in the international negotiations process and for countries with similar socio-economic conditions (such as those in South Asia) to develop joint positions. Ms. Sattar informed the audience that IUCN has been playing a very proactive role at global climate change negotiations and events. For example at the Bali COP, IUCN’s efforts had led to further strengthening the focus on reforestation, biodiversity and livelihoods.
In his presentation titled “Climate Change Concerns, Research Needs and Efforts in Pakistan” Dr. Arshad Muhammad Khan, Executive Director of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre highlighted some threats, including increased variability of monsoons, escalating risks of floods and droughts, severe water-stressed conditions in arid and semi-arid zones and food insecurity due to reduced agriculture productivity. Highlighting the vulnerability of Pakistan to this phenomena, he stated that climate change will have a severe impact on agriculture, river flows and exacerbate food and energy shortages. He urged technical and scientific instituions to undertake appropriate adaptation measures
Dr Ainun Nishat, Country Representative, IUCN Bangladesh talked in detail on the status of international climate change negotiations at the Climate Change Conference held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007. The challenges till the next conference scheduled to be held in Copenhagen in 2009 are enormous and hold serious implications for developing countries, contended Dr. Nishat.
In his speech, Minister for Environment Syed Wajid Hussain Bokhari stated that the Government of Pakistan is committed to conserving Pakistan’s enormous natural wealth from adverse impacts of Climate Change. He mentioned that the National Environment Policy 2005 provides priorities and guidelines for tackling climate change issues, including devising and implementing the national climate change policy and action plan, establishing of a national clean development mechanism (CDM) and development and implementation of a national framework for CDM processes to address brown cloud issues.
He was of the view that it was crucial to ensure cross-sectoral integration of Climate Change aspects in national policies and plans, without which any strategy for addressing the impacts of Climate Change would be ineffective. In order to mitigate risks and develop robust adaptation strategies, there is a need to create synergies between the various government agencies and other players responsible for disaster risk reduction in the country. He urged TAP to give particular attention to this facet.
In the end, the minister praised the support provided by DFID, Royal Norwegian Embassy and IUCN for leading this initiative and extending support to the Government of Pakistan.
Notes to editors
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