Story | 14 Feb, 2023

IUCN Country Representative Participates as Guest Speaker at Pakistan International Maritime Conference 2023 Karachi

IUCN Pakistan Country Representative, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, was one of the keynote speakers at the Pakistan International Maritime Conference – 2023, organized from 10-12 February 2023, in Karachi, on the theme ‘Embracing Blue Economy – Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries’ by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs.

There were around 133 exhibitors including 21 international firms and 112 local firms/ international organizations from 50 different countries who participated.

The conference thematically consisted of four main sessions covering 27 papers by national and international speakers of repute.

The main objectives of conference were to highlight Pakistan’s potential for blue economy, provide opportunities to maritime Industry both in public and private sectors, and to showcase products on a common platform.

Maritime sector is at the heart of global trade and economy, with the existing value of global ocean economy estimated at US $1.5 Trillion per year, and which is expected to be doubled by 2030.

Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema was one of the keynote speakers and spoke on “Preservation of Pakistan’s Coastal and Marine Ecosystem”.

The presentation enumerated the challenges being faced by the Coastal and Marine Ecosystem along the Pakistan. Challenges included acute shortage of freshwater; sea water intrusion and coastal erosion; poverty incidence is high; natural calamities aggravated by climate change; salinity - major threat to agriculture and livelihoods; reduction of mangrove forests; depletion of fish stocks; species extinction; and coastal and marine pollution.

Mr. Cheema also highlighted the unique collaboration of IUCN with Pakistan Navy – a non-traditional partner for plantation of 7.5 million mangroves over the past 7 years (2016-2022) along the coasts of Pakistan.

He noted that the role of the federal and provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan and private sector towards enhancing the mangroves cover along the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan; and contribution of IUCN Pakistan towards mangroves conservation spanning over three decades. He specifically mentioned of a close cooperation between Sindh Forest Department and IUCN Pakistan spanning over decades.

The presentation also depicted the estimated valuation of mangroves figured out through a detailed study undertaken by IUCN which comes to around US$ 1400 per hectare per year.   
While presenting the background of the declaration of the 1st ever Martine Protected Area, Mr. Cheema mentioned that National Coordinating Body established under the IUCN’s Mangroves for the Future Programme brought together all the stakeholders to get the 1st Marine Protected Area notified by the Government of Balochistan.

In terms of solutions to the issues highlighted, Mr. Cheema suggested a joint review of existing coastal policies, along with a ministerial coordinating forum; consortium of donors (WB, ADB, IDB, Private Sector); as well as a consortium of implementers. He also noted that large projects needed to be financed by Green Climate Fund (GCF); and strengthening of National Coordination Body (NCB) was a must, while upscaling existing mangroves restoration initiatives in Pakistan. He went on to also add engagement with non-traditional partners, such as Ministry of Defense, Pakistan Navy, and Private Sector; Creation of new Marine Protected Areas; Reducing marine plastic; Replicate Wastewater Treatment Plants; Climate smart infrastructure.

He also spoke about the IUCN Nature 2030 Programme, saying IUCN plans to work towards its vision of a just world that values and conserves nature. The IUCN Programme marks the culmination of many years of deliberation across the Union. The Nature 2030 IUCN Programme, for the first time, sets its ambition in a decadal timeframe (2021–2030) and is a call for mobilisation to the entire Union, through a high-level, strategic document that includes and invites contributions from the IUCN Members, Commissions and Secretariat. This longer-term outlook ensures alignment with United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Mr. Cheema explained that since its inception, IUCN Pakistan has been deeply involved in nature conservation. As the only environmental organisation with official United Nations Observer Status, IUCN ensures that nature conservation has a voice at the highest level of international governance. Over the last 38 years in Pakistan, IUCN Pakistan has been pursuing nature conservation and sustainable development in Pakistan through its members and partners.  IUCN’s focus has also been on protected areas, such as national parks, nature reserves and marine sanctuaries play pivotal role in maintaining a healthy environment for both people and nature.