Climate-resilient pathways: minister highlights key govt initiatives

By Staff Reporter | Business Recorder Sep 1, 2023

Caretaker Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Muhammad Sami Saeed said the roadmap to the climate-change resilient and adaptive future plan for Pakistan required collaboration among all stakeholders, terming it the need of the hour.

“We will have to work hand in hand to align efforts of all stakeholders including government departments, private enterprises, civil society, academia, and development partners,” the minister, Thursday, said while addressing the inaugural session of projects completion ceremony titled, “Optimizing Impact – Investing in Resilient and Adaptive Future of Pakistan.”

He said it is noted that in the last year, Pakistan faced unprecedented devastation due to torrential rains and flooding in most parts of the country, which affected 33 million people and economic losses worth $30 billion as a result the government prepared a Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework 4RF framework which is being implemented.

“This initiative focused on rebuilding infrastructure, restoring essential services, and assisting affected communities. Through this program, we aimed to expedite the recovery process and ensure a resilient rebuilding of the flood-affected regions,” said the minister, while highlighting the key initiatives taken by the government over climate-resilient policies in the country.

In January this year, Pakistan successfully managed to secure pledges of US$10 billion from the donor which was committed during the International Conference on “Climate Resilient Pakistan” jointly hosted by Pakistan and the UN in Geneva.

The minister linked national development with the ability to embrace change, confront challenges and seize opportunities, describing it as a necessity, not an option. He was of the view that “impact investing” offered a framework to create a prosperous society leaving no one behind, protecting the planet Earth and paving the way for the coming generations’ better future.

Saeed stressed the need for investing to build a resilient nation, enhancing its ability to absorb shocks and recover swiftly from challenges. With its rich history and diverse potential, the minister said Pakistan time and again exhibited its capacity to endure and evolve.

However, he said, as the nation confronted 21st Century complexities - from climate change to technological disruption – its approach to development must evolve as well. “We must pursue smart, sustainable growth that considers the long-term well-being of our citizens and the health of our environment,” he said.

The minister added that Pakistan had become an epicentre of climate change, ranking among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to its devastating effects. Despite being a negligible contributor to global warming, he said the cost of climate change to Pakistan was substantial and continuously increasing as the country faced serious economic challenges.

He said a number of interventions were being implemented to incentivise farmers for transition to climate-smart water and land management practices. “We are implementing a long-term agriculture growth strategy with a focus on productivity improvement, climate resilience, and physical expansion,” he added.

The minister emphasized investing in state-of-the-art early warning systems, gathering and utilizing data-driven insights to analyze climate patterns and potential disasters. He asked for strengthening disaster risk governance by establishing clear policies, institutional frameworks, and coordination mechanisms.

He called for investing in education and innovation to encourage entrepreneurship and embrace emerging technologies. “By doing so, we not only create a workforce that is prepared for the jobs of tomorrow but also position ourselves as pioneers in new industries.”

Speaking at the occasion, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission (DCPC) Mohammad Jahanzeb Khan highlighted the significant steps taken by the government.

The DCPC also appreciated the donors particularly Asian Development Bank and others which helped Pakistan in the implementation of 4RF framework. “It was not an easy task but the government continued deliberation and each sector was reviewed and made an action plan for better utilisation of funds,” remarked Khan while reiterating the government is committed to adopt climate-resilient policies in the future. He added that the flood victims were helped timely despite financial constraints.

He said it is noted that the Central Development Working Party (CWDP) approved several projects related to climate resilience in order to avoid untoward incidents in the future.

Highlighting the key achievements of the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF), Secretary Planning Ministry Syed Zafar Ali Shah, in his speech, said that the NDRMF, an attached department of the ministry, played a key role in the implementation of disaster risk reduction, disaster risk financing and climate change investments across Pakistan.

He informed the participants that the Planning Ministry has allocated sufficient funds for the installation of early warning systems and community-based disaster risk. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, the secretary said that major projects which include the construction of public buildings with quality infrastructure, safety measures to prevent flood water disaster, construction of water reservoirs, and landslide management will be launched to make the country climate resilient.

He said that climate change is now a reality which requires continuous work from formulation of an action plan to its implementation, remarked the secretary, while highlighting the 4RF which has been implemented since the flood in 2022 came on the surface.

The secretary emphasized the need to increase capacity at the central and provincial levels to deal with natural disasters while assuring the completion of ongoing projects to achieve the desired results.

Chief Executive Officer of NDRMF Bilal Anwar and Country Director of ADB Yong Ye also spoke on the occasion.

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