There is Need to Use Print and Electronic Media to Create Awareness on Climate Change in the Country: Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Islamabad
Islamabad (26thFebruary, 2018).......The inaugural session of the Fourth Climate Change Adaptation Policy and Science (CCAPS) Conference was held from 9:00am–12:00 pm on 26 February 2018 at the Islamabad Hotel, Pakistan. The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, inaugurated the conference. High-level dignitaries from Pakistan—parliamentarians, bureaucrats, chancellors and vice chancellors of major academic institutions, and eminent researchers and policy makers—attended the inaugural. Notable international figures included Dr David Molden, the Director General (DG) of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Dr Bram de Vos, Managing Director of Wageningen Environmental Research.
Dr Yusuf Zafar T.I., Chairman of PARC, opened the formal conference proceedings. A recitation of verses from the Holy Quran preceded his welcome remarks. Dr Zafar T.I., welcomed the participants of the conference and praised the organizers’ efforts. He expressed enthusiasm for the event’s success and stated that the conference would provide a unique platform for interaction and deliberation, where attendees might benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. He said the conference would offer open debates and scientific deliberations on important and interconnected themes regarding adaptation to climate change.
Dr Muhammad Shafique, Deputy Secretary, for the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, delivered the keynote address. He said that climate change has emerged as one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Increasing global temperatures, reduced and erratic rainfall patterns, and hydro-meteorological disasters such as floods and droughts have increased the vulnerability of developing countries such as Pakistan, he said. In light of these climate-induced stresses, Dr. Shafique added that increasing poverty and population would present troubling times in the future. He urged planners and policymakers to incorporate the climate change agenda into national development strategies. He also highlighted the importance of climate and water smart agriculture as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s National Agricultural Development Strategy to ensure sustainable food security under climate change and increasing food demand.
Dr David Molden, DG, ICIMOD, delivered the keynote address and highlighted that the HKH region is home to 240 million people. Not only this population is dependent on mountain ecosystems, but downstream populations are also relying on mountain services such as water for food security and livelihoods. He revealed that agriculture and food security in Pakistan is also highly vulnerable to climate change impacts due to higher dependence on vulnerable natural resources such as water. Indus River is highly dependent on glacial melt water hence it is very sensitive to climate change impacts. We need to put in efforts to inform the policy makers with scientific evidences. He said, “decisions about mountain resources are often made outside these regions, and there is need to realize the voice to mountain people”.
The Canadian High Commissioner Mr. Perry J. Calderwood revealed that climate change is among the most prioritized areas for Canadian government to focus in developing countries. He said, the Canadian Government has provided significant contribution to global efforts for tackling the climate challenge. These include financing at bilateral and multilateral level support. He also highlighted financial support of Canadian government to HI-AWARE.
Dr Hester Biemans delivered the keynote presentation. Titled “Mountain Water Resources of the HKH Crucial for Downstream Food Production”, the presentation highlighted that Indus River has the highest reliance on melt water in the entire HKH region with many parts having more than 60% irrigation supply coming from melt water. In pre-monsoon period, the melt water contribution is most critical for agriculture sector. Some regions of Indus Basin that depend on melt water also have depleting groundwater reservoirs which makes them highly sensitive to future climate shocks. She revealed that climate change induced changes in glacier melting has serious implications for food production in the plain areas of Pakistan. In addition to rate of melting, timing of melting is also important for crops particularly wheat, rice and cotton.
Special remarks at the inaugural ceremony of the CCAPS were delivered by Ms Romina Khurshid Alam, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Climate Change. She began her address by stating, “Climate Change is no more a speculation and the people who disagree are living in a world of self-denial”. She expressed concern over the uncertain and manifold impacts of climate change that have engulfed the country. She explained that Pakistan is among the world’s top seven countries highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Nearly half of the population in Pakistan is food and water insecure. Pakistan is 17th in the global list of the countries facing water crises. Amongst all these disturbing facts, the Government of Pakistan, Ms Romina said, has taken initiatives to curb the challenge of climate change, the most pertinent of which include the Prime Minister’s Pakistan Greening and Zero Hunger programmes, which intend to reach 61 million people. Ms Romina added that Pakistan developed its first National Climate Change Policy in 2013 and that the recent government of Pakistan developed the Climate Change Act 2017. The Climate Change Act establishes a policy-making Climate Change Council, along with a Climate Change Authority to prepare and supervise the implementation of projects to help Pakistan adapt to climate impacts and hold the line on climate-changing emission.
In her inaugural address, Honourable Minister of State, for Information and Broadcasting, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb highlighted some of the major achievements of the Government of Pakistan in its efforts against climate change. She expressed her delight at being a part of the international conference organized by PARC. She highlighted the efforts of the government of Pakistan towards climate resilience. She said that the government is giving high importance to resilient infrastructure, resilient crops, and flexible cropping patterns, disaster preparedness, and community based participatory projects. She also highlighted two very important points related to awareness on climate change. First, it is very critical to communicate climate science to people, media and policy makers. She further emphasized that there is need to use print and electronic media to create awareness on climate change in the country. She also mentioned that Radio Pakistan has already started climate change awareness and SDG related programmes. Second, she emphasized that science and policy events should involve students because their participation is so crucial for understanding climate change and its future impacts. She said, “the government of Pakistan is taking steps to mainstream climate change and related hazards in the school, college and university curricula.
Dr. Mulari from IDRC (on video link) highlighted the achievements of HI-AWARE. He particularly mentioned the solutions which are suggested for vulnerable areas to climate change impacts. Among several, solutions he particularly highlighted solar powered irrigation systems integrated with high efficiency Irrigation systems and resilient crops in Pakistan, Ecosan toilets in Bihar India, flood resilient houses in flood plains of Bangladesh, and heat resilient roofs and houses in the urban areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
At the end of the inaugural Ceremony, Dr Yusuf Zafar T.I., the Chairman, PARC, delivered the vote of thanks. Dr Zafar T.I., expressed his gratitude to the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb and Parliamentary Secretary and Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Climate Change, Ms Romina Khurshid Alam for gracing the occasion. Dr Zafar T.I., thanked all the international and national dignitaries and delegates present. He commended Dr. Shafique and Dr Molden on delivering thought provoking speeches. Dr Zafar T.I., thanked the Chairman of PARC for leading the organization of the conference. He offered his special thanks to Dr Hester Biemans for presenting an overview of upstream-downstream linkages of mountain water resources of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. Dr Zafar T.I., also extended his gratitude to HI-AWARE’s benevolent donors, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for financing the HI-AWARE consortium under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme. He appreciated the untiring efforts of the HI-AWARE team at PARC and the support offered by the consortium members to design, plan, and realize this important conference.
Director (PR&P) PARC
Edited by: Muhammad Fiaz Joyia
Director (SC&P), NARC