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Dateline

Published Date: Feb 14, 2012

A UNITED INDO-PAK AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

India and Pakistan faced common adversaries in climate change and it needed collective response to deal with the magnitude of the problem, stressed Dr Ishfaq Ahmad, Advisor Planning Commission of Pakistan on Climate Change and Development.
He was speaking at the ‘Pakistan-India Track II Dialogue on (Climate) Change for peace’, convened by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in conjunction with Center for Science and Environment (CSE) Monday.
Delegates from Pakistan and India are attending the dialogue which also marks SDPI’s 20th anniversary.
Speakers said Pakistan and India could avert future threats brought by changing weather conditions by acting together, and if they did, the two neighbours could usher in peace and prosperity in   South Asia, as well as in their own countries.
Delegates from both countries stressed continuation of dialogue and to prepare workable regional strategy to counter the threat of the climate change.
The policy so devised should also discuss natural resources issues within the region, they said.
Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) supported the dialogue.
The event is a step towards designing an actionable agenda for climate change in Pakistan and India.
It would also help normalise bilateral relations.
The agenda would take in help from experts and civil society representatives from the two countries.
Chairing the opening session, Ishfaq Ahmed said, “we must at least narrow down the gap particularly on water, if not on all issues, and institutionalise and devise appropriate strategies for climate change adaptation.”
Britta Peterson, Country Director Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) Pakistan urged the delegates to take the advantage of this platform and come up with new and practical ideas.
“Gravity of situation needs concrete efforts to carve out a realistic roadmap for Indo-Pak collaboration on combating climate change and to provide comprehensive, policy-relevant, science-based assessment of environment in South Asia to policy maker” she added.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Senior Advisor SDPI and Former Deputy Executive Director United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), talked of the need of collaboration between India and Pakistan and other South Asian countries on climate change.
He said Pakistan and India must discuss and explore vistas of cooperation on climate change as both countries have an integrated ecological system with shared natural resources adding that only regional cooperation can help address the existential threat the climate change poses.
Kakakhel said water availability in the region is highly susceptible due to climate change which affects glacial melt and monsoon system that feeds the rivers in the sub-continent.
He was of the view that Saarc can be instrumental and must serve as principle vehicle for sub-regional cooperation on issues related to environment, climate change, and socio-economic development in the region.
“However, there is a negligible progress on translating the Saarc commitments made at Dhaka and Thimphu Summits into practical actions, mainly due to lack of political will, weak environmental cooperation in the region and absence of a serious attitude of countries towards Saarc,” he maintained.
Axel Harneit Sievers, Country Director Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) India, said dialogue on climate change between the two countries is essential to systematically improve relations and particularly discuss issues where both countries have a common position.
Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Senior Research Associate at SDPI, briefed the participants about the objectives and goals of conference and maintained track-II dialogue is aimed at providing platform for experts and people across the border to come and discuss the possibilities for cooperation under climate change regime with joint research-policy-action and sharing of technology, knowledge, and experience.