Sustaining the Environmental Momentum
Nov 20, 2020
Pakistan is one of the few countries to achieve “on track status” vis-à-vis SDG 13 on Climate Change. The achievement of this status is largely, a result of several policies and initiatives by the government, which have been launched with the aim to improve the environment and manage the changing climate. These include among others, ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’, ‘Ten Billion Tree Tsunami’, ‘Protected Areas Initiative’ and “Recharge Pakistan”.
Despite these initiatives and successes, Pakistan remains extremely vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, Pakistan is ranked fifth in the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change. Between 1999 to 2018, the country witnessed 152 extreme weather events and suffered huge losses equaling USD 3.8 billion. The human impacts of such events, for instance, the heat waves in Peshawar and Karachi, or Lahore’s overwhelming smog, are beginning to have dire health and economic impacts.
Pakistan has paid serious attention to addressing growing environmental challenges in recent times. Several policies and public sector initiatives have taken effect and several Acts have been promulgated. Strengthening of environmental protection agencies (EPA’s) at federal and provincial levels, setting up of environmental laboratories, environmental courts, National Environment Quality Standards, setting up the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (NEECA) etc., are all significant milestones.
While the government leads and regulates the environmental sustainability agenda of the country, the responsibility for the conservation of the environment and its resources rests with all stakeholders, including the public and private sector, as well as individuals. Although several private sector players have piloted numerous initiatives including awareness campaigns, cleaning drives, WASH programs etc., there has been no check and balance on acts that have been harming the environment. These include irresponsible hospital and municipal waste disposal, depletion of forest cover, extensive and unsustainable use of water in agriculture etc. In addition, imprudent individual behaviour, such as irresponsible littering, extensive use of motorized transport, burning of crop residue post-harvest, are all incidences that are having a ripple effect on exacerbating environmental challenges.