PRE-COP 28: Minister calls for collective action to pressing climate change challenges

Caretaker Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik, emphasised the need for collective efforts to address the challenges of climate change, water security, and food security on Monday. While addressing participants of a Pre-Cop 28 conference on “Accelerating the Water-Food Climate Nexus Transformation Pathways for Pakistan” organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Islamabad, he stated that citizens must take steps to protect water resources to achieve sustainable development.

He mentioned that efforts are underway to implement laser land levelling technology to minimise water usage in irrigation and promote water safety. He emphasised the need to raise public awareness about the significance of water and its safety. Dr. Kausar emphasized the importance of water safety to improve agriculture, food systems, and economic development. He warned that failure to take immediate and bold measures could result in further deterioration of water security.

Mark Smith, Director General of IWMI, pointed out that although Pakistan only accounts for a negligible share of global emissions, the country bears a disproportionate burden of the impacts of climate change.

In his inaugural address, Dr Mark identified that although Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the world’s planet-warming gases, it is still ranked as the eighth most vulnerable country to the climate crisis. He explained that around 92% of Pakistan is classified as semi-arid to arid, and most of the population relies on limited water resources from rivers and aquifers.

We will support the Ministry of Climate Change in creating a position paper on water and climate change for CoP28. The government, policymakers, and provinces of Pakistan must work together to combat climate change.

The British High Commissioner, Jane Marriott OBE, has emphasised the importance of implementing climate resilience strategies in Pakistan, considered one of the topmost climate-vulnerable countries and ranks 32nd in preparedness. She highlighted the need to address the challenges of food and water governance, gender equality, and poverty reduction in the country by tackling the impacts of climate change. Marriott added that the UK supports Pakistan in its efforts to address these challenges.

She mentioned that the UK will invest in AI-powered solutions to tackle climate change in Pakistan, where Lahore has been declared the most polluted city and Pakistan ranks third among countries battling this issue.

Ms. Danielle Cashen, Deputy High Commissioner of the Australian High Commission, stated that Pakistan is facing severe water scarcity. By 2025, only 36% of the population will have access to safely managed water and only 1% of wastewater will be treated.

“Water, climate change & and food security are interconnected & and multisectoral solutions are needed to help Pakistan overcome these challenges.” She said, “Australia and Pakistan work together on agriculture within water scarce & salinity affected landscapes. Together we investigate adaptation strategies and tools with communities and farmers to provide transparent & and consistent seasonal water allocation within the Indus Basin.”

H.E. Maciej Pisarski, the Ambassador of Poland, emphasized the importance of focusing on issues that matter to both Poland and Pakistan to expand cooperation between the two countries. He suggested that addressing climate change together could provide a multitude of opportunities for collaboration.

He shared how Polish Water Technologies can help in addressing climate-related challenges. The partnership between Polish Water Technologies and IWMI can offer a comprehensive solution to Pakistan’s climate issues. This includes the provision of cost-effective and efficient water purification technologies, the construction of eco-friendly wastewater treatment plants, and the reinforcement of flood prevention measures in Pakistan by Polish companies.

On the occasion, Kate Somvongsiri, Mission Director for USAID, stated that addressing climate change is a global challenge that requires building linkages across populations, geographies, organizations, and sectors. She emphasized that the US government is committed to this approach.

While concluding the conference, Dr Mohsin Hafeez, director IWMI, said Climate change poses a significant threat to our water, food, energy, and environmental systems. Unfortunately, the way our govt departments and provinces are utilizing water resources is inadequate to tackle Pakistan’s complex range of challenges. Hence, we must improve governance in all sectors to overcome these challenges.

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