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Our Correspondent

The Express Tribune

Published Date: Jul 24, 2014

Searching for panacea: Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change highlighted


With inconsistent disaster preparedness and weak
institutional response, Pakistan’s challenges related to climate change
are worsening with time.

This was stated by former environment minister Malik Amin Aslam at a
seminar on climate change and its dimensions held at the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI)

Aslam, while speaking on climate change and the complexities that
exist within, said Pakistan is in the top 10 of countries most affected
by climate change, according to German Watch.

The Global Climate Index 2010 ranks Pakistan on number one, with a
death toll of 1,891 people due to climate change. Losses per unit sum up
to a total of 5.42 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, reveals the

Moreover, challenges from having the region’s highest population
density make it a volatile and vulnerable region, said the former
minister, adding that with 90 per cent of natural disasters being
climate related, the damage costs are going up with a frequency of 60
per cent in the past ten years.

Terming the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change and Core
Committee on Climate Change dysfunctional, Aslam explained that there is
a need to revive and streamline both these organisations. Moreover, the
provinces needed to build theirs adaptation and mitigation capacity in
order to synchronise local institutions with global mechanisms, he said.

“In Pakistan, we do not have a choice. We cannot ignore climate change,” he said.

Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, chairperson of SDPI’s board of
governors, explained that the majority districts of the country are
located in arid and semi-arid zones.

Almost 60 per cent of what is produced in these areas will be
confronted with climate change challenges, he said, adding that
deforestation and the increasing population are further adding to the

“If population is growing at a rate of 2 per cent and production
remains stagnant, then it is likely that we will be in extremely
challenging circumstances soon,” said Kakakhel.

While various policies of the government assign special focus to arid
and semi-arid areas of the country, hardly any work is done on the
ground as political will remains non-existent and local government
structures are weak.

He further added that the coastal areas of Thatta and Badin in Sindh are some of the most vulnerable areas in the country.

Dr Rehana Siddiqui, joint director of Pakistan Institute of
Development Economics, said the general public needs to be better
educated on issues of climate change. The role of institutions must be
identified and their capacity be increased to deal with the present
crisis, she added.

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