Climate science and policy frameworks
From the website to the market outlook, the Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC) has been revamped in a short span of time. From a slow paced government institute to a vibrant public institution, the Centre is well geared up to take the driving seat to bridging the science and policy frameworks for Pakistan in the changing global context. Thanks to Dr Tariq Banuri, for taking up the task to reshape the future of climate research in Pakistan and bridging the gap of research-based policy frameworks.
Dr Tariq Banuri is known to me from the days when the National Conservation Strategy (NCS) was being developed in 1991, followed by the emergence of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and his appointment as the first SDPI Executive Director. A PhD in Economics from the Harvard University, he has been a member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He was also conferred upon the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction) by the President of Pakistan in recognition of his services to research and education on 23 March 2003.
Dr Tariq Banuri’s appointment as GCISC Executive Director has turned to a good sign as the Centre managed to organise the first-ever three-day international conference on Climate Change in Pakistan. The GCISC collaborating partners for the conference were the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), Higher Education Commission (HEC), University of Utah and the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (US-PCASW) at Mehran UET, Jamshoro (Sindh), Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD). This collaboration culminated an output that is much need at the point of time to develop futuristic policy frameworks based on the realistic facts at present. More than 140 scientists from all over the world presented their latest research findings on different aspects of the climate change.
Nevertheless, many domestic development partners were missing in the collaborative effort. Though the climate change minister was on the forefront with the collaborating partners to make the conference a success, the sluggish bureaucracy was lagging behind. The ministry could not contribute any financial assistance to the conference despite clear instructions from the federal minister for climate change to its ministry to financially and technically support the first ever international knowledge sharing intervention.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his inaugural speech mentioned that the government has set aside more than eight percent of budget for climate-related actions. The government has also passed the Pakistan Climate Change Act, paving the way for setting up two new institutions — the National Climate Change Council (NCCC), which shall be chaired by the PM, and the National Climate Change Authority (NCCA), an executive body to implement the council’s directives.
Prime Minister believes that this would bring greater coherence to climate actions being taken by various ministries and agencies to which the government was fully committed to, and Pakistan’s climate policy revolved around three objectives — saving human lives, promoting sustainable development and honouring the country’s international commitments.
Pakistan is among countries most affected by climate change despite its negligible contribution to global warming. It is true that we are an energy-deficient country and we need affordable energy to meet our basic needs and to continue development process.
Pakistan is among countries most affected by climate change despite its negligible contribution to global warming, but it is also true that we are an energy-deficient country and we need affordable energy to meet our basic needs
Pakistan is seventh on the climate vulnerability index but we hardly see efforts according to the needs and challenges Pakistan is confronting. We see government ‘fully committed’ to addressing climate change challenges but mostly in speeches only. Securing funding from global sources for the climate action agenda has been a huge deficit. If a little comes to Pakistan that is abruptly spent in a way that nothing significant comes out of it. More sadly major chunk of the money is divided among those influential who were engaged in developing the funding proposal or in the implementation in the name of consultancies and ‘incentives’.
The Ministry of Climate Change has turned to a bureaucratic den of malpractices right from top to the bottom like many other in the government. Despite severe allegations of corruption and malpractices vividly evident, we see no action against anyone. Like previous Federal Secretaries at the Ministry of Climate Change, the present one is also the epicentre of ‘everything’ for years. Rumours were all around in the times of previous Federal Secretaries, and rumours are all around even now. Nothing was happened against the previous ones except they were transferred to other rather more powerful federal ministries, and same would happen this time too, I strongly believe.
Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan intended to strengthen Pakistan’s research capacity of the country’s leading climate research institute, the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) and the centre’s standards too besides benefitting from the experiences of the international community.
Off course, we do need research, policy frameworks and action agenda, and financial resources for implementation. But, the Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for Climate Change first need to clear the smog of malpractices within the climate change ministry before to go ahead tackling the natural calamities, and climate challenges confronting the communities countrywide. They need to stringently check the appointments in the projects and their performance, the lethargic system at the ministry and its staff, overlapping utilisation of funds contributed by the corporates under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the leisure funding from the forbidden corporates such as tobacco companies, and most importantly the sorry affairs of the Zoological Gardens in Bhara Kahu in the suburbs of the federal capital Islamabad that is secretly and slowly turning to residential gardens in connivance of the senior officers at the Climate Change ministry and the estate mafia, and so on. First we need to put in order the internal affair of the climate change ministry and relevant projects and departments before to think something big.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.