On the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity, IUCN Pakistan organized a webinar to commemorate the day and highlight the importance of Biodiversity and the nature based solutions. The theme of the day this year was: "Our solutions are in nature".
In her remarks, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director IUCN Asia and Director – Regional Hub for Asia-Oceania, said that Nature based-solutions has been IUCN’s concept that was developed many years go and its understanding, analysis and its application is constantly evolving. She further explained that given the current pandemic, IUCN continued to be safe and continued to think of the linkages we have with nature, and how nature-based solutions could serve as a way forward for us all.”.
Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan welcomed Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, IUCN Asia & Director – Regional Hub for Asia-Oceania; Mr. Raphaël Glémet, Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands, IUCN Asia Regional Office, Representatives of French Embassy, Representatives of Canadian Embassy, European Union Delegation; and DFID in Pakistan, Mr. Roomi S. Hayat, Chair, IUCN Pakistan National Committee, and a large number of representatives of the NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, to the webinar.
He thanked the participants and recounted IUCN’s works towards conservation of nature and natural resources. He said that IUCN has been instrumental in putting together strategies, action plans for the federal and provincial and district governments. IUCN’s works spans from coasts to mountains in partnership with the government and NGOs.
He mentioned the Trophy Hunting Programme as an example initiative that has benefited local communities monetarily to the tune of PKR 70 million. The local communities also take keen interest in conservation of wildlife species if they get benefits from conservation activities. IUCN has coastal areas experience from 12 countries and carried out numerous projects and programmes towards conservation of reforestation of mangroves, green turtle conservation, illegal trade of turtles, ecotourism etc.
Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change talked of the Green Stimulus initiative of the government saying that it is based on two things: “one is nature’s protection and the other to provide jobs to the jobless in the wake of COVID-19. He said that the situation has compelled the people to migrate from Urban to Rural areas. He said that the programme has employed 65,000 people in Pakistan. There are two more phases of the programme and it is estimated that by the end of the third phase we will have 600,000 people employed.”
Mr. Aslam added : “We have 10 billion trees plantation programme with ownership by all provinces, the second part is the National Parks and Protected Areas. These are not properly managed which we will focus on and will be announcing seven national parks in June 2020. The Government of Pakistan has started collaborating with US National Parks. The third area is proper management plans that will be implemented in these parks.
There will also be initiatives on Urban Waste Management and Liquid and Solid Waste Managementas well as Post Covid-19 Recovery with financing through the Ecosystem Restoration Fund created and announced at the UN Climate Change Conference during 2019.
Mr. Malik Amin Aslam said that “today’s theme is based on nature-based solutions and Pakistan’s focus is nature based solutions and the future lies in solutions to nature. The nature-based solutions approach is an idea that has had genesis in IUCN.
We know that the cause of this plague lies in nature and there is a cost to pay if we invade nature and there are benefits if we invest in nature. The COVID-19 crisis has taught us a new pathway to growth and economic development.”
Mr. Raphaël Glémet, Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands, IUCN Asia Regional Office made a detailed presentation on Nature-based Solutions for Societal Challenges for delivering on SDGs.
Defining the concept of eco-system, he said that ecosystem services provide benefit to people (human well being). The ecosystems also protect us from storms. Provisioning it provides water, food, agriculture, and fuel. The biosphere underpins economic and social well-being. He said that 4 SDGs are linked to ecosystems i.e. Food security, water security, poverty etc.
He quoted example of the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. It is estimated that the restoration will create approximately USD 84 billion per year in net benefits that could bring direct additional income opportunities for rural communities.
He also quoted the example that “Pakistan has achieved its restoration target through a combination of protected natural regeneration (60%) and planned afforestation (40%). In addition, it has established 13,000 private tree nurseries, which have already boosted local incomes, generated thousands of green jobs, and empowered unemployed youth and women in the province.”
He said that challenges of climate change, food security, water security, human health, socio-economic development, disaster risk reduction, and ecosystem degradation & biodiversity loss can be addressed through Nature-based Solutions. Deforestation drives wild animals out of their natural habits and closer to human populations, creating greater opportunities for viruses like Covid-19 to spread.
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