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Dawn

Published Date: Dec 29, 2011

Development at the cost of environment regretted

Development
projects in the country are often executed without considering their human and
environmental impact and sustainable development can only be achieved by
putting people and environment at the heart of development process.

This was stated by experts
and social scientists belonging to Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI), here Wednesday in a meeting with students and academics of Sustainable
Development Study Centre (SDSC) of Government
College University,
Lahore, who
visited the institute.

However, the SDPI
officials stressed for collaboration between universities and research
institutions for academic research on different aspects of sustainable
development and also called upon the students to come forward and get involved
in the various research works.

Arshad H Abbasi, Senior
Advisor, Water and Energy at SDPI informed the delegation about the work
related to food insecurity, water, energy and environment done by the
institute.

He said that development
projects that ignore human and environmental aspects have disastrous
consequences for both people and the environment.

“The New Murree project
launched during Gen Musharraf’s regime was an environmental disaster which was
technically challenged by the institute’s research reports,” he said and
highlighted that the institute’s research and advocacy work created awareness
and mobilised stakeholders as a result of which the Supreme Court of Pakistan
took sue motto notice and ordered abandoning of this project.

“Sustainable Development
Policy Institute saved ancient conifer forest reserve on 34,000 acres which
acted as monsoon rains harvester for the water and environmental needs of this
area,” he said.

Mr Abbasi also shared
some of other recognised works of his institute such as consolidated work on
Indus Water Treaty and protection of Himalayan glaciers.

Shakeel Ahmad Ramey,
Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study
Center at SDPI highlighted that Pakistan is
actively negotiating at international forums that currently focus on ‘green
economy’ and ‘institutional framework for sustainable development’.

He clarified that these
approaches are just an instrument to achieve the sustainable development.

During the
question-answer session, students raised several issues such as public
policies, weak environmental governance in Pakistan, and North-dominated
global debates on sustainable development, and side-effects of dependency on
foreign aid.

Faisal Nadeem Gorchani of
Sustainable Development Policy Institute said that the research institutions in
Pakistan
have always struggled to protect public interest through their policy research
and advocacy, networking, lobbying and social and political movements. “The
struggle will continue as it aims to obtain people’s supremacy over country’s
decision-making and implementing institutions,” he added.

He said crisis of
non-representative governments and their deep penetration into economic,
social, political and other institutions have created a strong culture of
non-participatory, non-consultative and non-transparent public policies which
eventually benefit the ruling elite and market forces at the cost of its people
especially the vulnerable and marginalised sections of society.