Pathways to development
Green economy plays an effective role in improving the well-being of people by reducing environmental risks and taking safety measures against natural calamities. In green economy, carbon emissions are low, resources are used efficiently and growth process is inclusive. To meet the objective of green economy, economic, social and environmental sustainability needs to be handled simultaneously because of its complementary nature. Any adverse impact whether environmental, economic or social holds back the growth process and poverty reduction efforts.
The sustainable development and inclusive growth is the forefront agenda at national and global level since the mid-1980s. Society as well as the whole economic structure is transforming rapidly in Pakistan and the focus is shifting towards poverty reduction. Sustainable development means environment-friendly fast economic growth which is to be socially unbiased as well. The finale of the 2015 global process includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. There is a much common in the aforementioned global process and Pakistan’s path of sustainable development.
The adverse impact of climate change and burden of poverty are the two main challenges that Pakistan has been facing for decades in its journey towards sustainable development.
An inclusive growth prototype for the climate vulnerable groups, sectors and ecological units is necessary in order to integrate them into sustainable development process. For sustainable development, the inclusive growth and climate resilient development efforts need to incorporate every aspect of Pakistan and its development goals. There are remarkable opportunities alongside with challenges in the co-occurrence of these global process and Pakistan’s own sustainable development journey in coming few decades. Pakistan aims at becoming a middle income country in its Vision 2025. This could be achieved only by incorporating inclusive growth and climate resilient development in the agenda of sustainable development.
Climate change contributes to income inequality because adverse climatic shocks excessively hurt the poor and marginalised groups in communities. Asian Development Bank’s country evaluation shows that in the absence of adverse climate shocks, headcount poverty would be 3.6 per cent instead of 11.3 per cent holding other things constant, including income inequality. This shows that adverse climate shocks slowed progress in poverty reduction. The inappropriate living conditions in urban areas compelled the poor to settle in areas disposed to adverse clime shocks.
The development effort and built-in climate change resilient systems are needed to harness the widening inequality in the country. To cope with the adverse impact of the climate change, marginalised people of the society must get access to economic opportunities and financial services.
Climate change related events cause huge losses to both life and property. According to the Global Climate Risk index 2017, the total climate change related events that occurred in Pakistan between 1996 and 2015 are 133. During this period the annual average economic loss was $3.9 billion, while the annual average lives loss was three individuals per million inhabitants during the same period. According to LEAD Pakistan, the expected health cost will increase continuously with the projected climatic changes.
The findings of the relationship between rising inequality and climate shocks suggest interventions from the stakeholders in order to enhance the adaptability of the marginalised people to climate change which will, in turn, reduce economic inequality. In this regard, the adaptability measures include information regarding climate change impact, early warning information system, reduced livelihood vulnerabilities through infrastructural changes, climate-resilient farm production practices and embed the climate change into development plans at all levels.
The improvement of resilient infrastructure, in particular, is to endure the climate related hazards. The climate-resilient infrastructure will help the marginalised communities to access health facilities and financial markets. In particular, the transport and water infrastructure need to be designed in such a way that resist life-threatening floods, abate water shortages and improve drainage system. Pakistan needs to build the climate-resilient infrastructure in disaster-prone regions. But unfortunately the climate change development agenda is not localised so far in Pakistan nor is the climate risk awareness campaign adopted at municipal/local level.
The notable efforts of Pakistan include the alignment of climate finance to existing climate policy objectives known as Climate Change Financing Framework (CCFF), National Disaster Risk Reduction policy, the establishment of Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Ministry of Climate Change and framework for implementation of climate change policy. The climate change fund has been created to build resilience to the adverse effects of climate change. What is vital for Pakistan is to institutionalise the climate change.
To simultaneously address the climate change, disasters and development, resilience is a globally observed inclusive approach. The Priority 3 of Sendai Framework, article 7 of Paris Climate Agreement and Goal-13, Target 13.1 of SDG focus on strengthening the resilience at global and national levels. The Pakistan National Disaster Risk Reduction policy, the Pakistan Vision 2025 and framework for implementation of climate change policy also refer to resilience for overall risk management and sustainable development.
There are various factors that determine the capability of a particular community and ecological unit to adapt to the climate change. The factors include but not limited to social, economic, technological, political, physical and human among others. The localisation of the resilience programme is technically very important and can help take into consideration the specific communities in the sustainable development process. The concerned authorities need to adopt the bottom-up approach for problem identification by engaging the affected communities. The affected communities could suggest better solutions to the local problems.
It is essential to address the incipient challenges in inclusive growth, climate change and resilient development. This requires the local government to be strong enough to better allocate and mobilise their resources and better plan their local issues. Building a resilient society requires socio-political, policy and ecological response to protect the environment. In order to better tackle the climate change impact, a response from science, innovation and technology is also inevitable.
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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.