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Pakistan’s Climate Diplomacy: Challenges & Solutions


Ujala Akram 

In an era marked by relentless climate change and rampant environmental degradation, the need for environmental diplomacy has become paramount. As a developing and climate-vulnerable country, Pakistan faces several challenging environmental issues and requires effective environmental diplomacy to contribute to international relations and national security.

Climate change poses an extreme threat to Pakistan. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, Pakistan is among the top ten countries most affected by climate change resulting in increased temperatures, glacier melting, and intense weather events. Rapid deforestation, urbanization, and water scarcity exacerbate these environmental problems.

Given the severity of these environmental threats, Pakistan urgently needs to take action to protect its food supply, healthcare system, and economic stability. Environmental diplomacy offers a powerful tool to achieve this.

The practice of environmental diplomacy involves the negotiation and implementation of international agreements aimed at addressing environmental concerns. A variety of activities are included within it, such as negotiations concerning climate change, conservation of biodiversity, and sustainable development. The use of environmental diplomacy by Pakistan is an opportunity to collaborate with other nations, attract international support, and increase Pakistan’s international profile.

While Pakistan actively pursues environmental diplomacy, several hurdles stand in its way, including:

Limited resources: Pakistan’s lack of funding and scientific expertise hinders its ability to fully participate in international climate discussions and fulfil its commitments.

Political instability: Frequent government changes and political turmoil disrupt environmental policies and make it difficult to maintain a consistent approach in international negotiations.

Public awareness gap: Insufficient public understanding and education about climate change issues weakens domestic support for international environmental initiatives.

Balancing act: Striking a balance between economic growth and environmental protection is a major challenge, especially for developing countries like Pakistan, where economic development is often prioritized.

To strengthen its environmental diplomacy, Pakistan needs a clear plan to address its limitations. This includes building strong institutions with scientific expertise and resources for effective environmental management.

Training diplomats and policymakers in climate issues and negotiation skills are crucial. Additionally, public education campaigns and involving civil society in environmental initiatives can build domestic support for international commitments.

Seeking financial and technical assistance from international organizations and developed countries is also important. Participating in global funds like the Green Climate Fund can secure much-needed resources.

Finally, developing cooperation with neighbouring countries on environmental issues can enhance regional stability. Initiatives like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) offer platforms for joint environmental efforts. Integrating ecological sustainability into national development plans can help balance economic growth with environmental concerns.

Ecological sustainability can be a key component of national development plans, helping to balance economic and environmental concerns. Environmental diplomacy in Pakistan demonstrates both potential and challenges as a result of its involvement in international climate change negotiations, specifically within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under the Paris Agreement, Pakistan has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening its resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Despite its relatively low contribution to global emissions, Pakistan demonstrates its commitment by taking proactive steps like the Billion Tree Tsunami project for large-scale reforestation. These initiatives not only combat climate change but also improve Pakistan’s image as a responsible global actor. However, ensuring concrete actions and bridging the gap between policy and implementation is vital to maximize the benefits of environmental diplomacy.

Effective communication of Pakistan’s environmental efforts and successes can further enhance its international standing. Environmental diplomacy can be seen as a form of “soft power,” influencing others through cultural and ideological leadership rather than force. By actively participating in international environmental projects and taking a leading role in regional environmental initiatives, Pakistan can strengthen its ties with other nations and potentially attract foreign investment and technology transfers that can support sustainable development.

Ultimately, effective environmental diplomacy not only helps Pakistan mitigate the impacts of climate change but also improves its global standing and contributes to a more stable and sustainable future. As the world grapples with environmental challenges, Pakistan’s proactive approach and leadership in environmental diplomacy can serve as a model for other developing countries struggling to balance development and environmental preservation.

*The author is a final year Defense and Diplomatic Studies student at Fatimah Jinnah Women’s University.

**The opinions in this article are the author’s own and may not represent the views of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization does not endorse or assume responsibility for the content.

The Diplomatic Insight, Pakistan's premier Public Diplomacy Magazine, has been at the forefront of promoting Peace Through Informed Dialogue since its inception in 2009. With both print and electronic versions, this decade-old media house is offering research, analysis, and public diplomacy outreach to clients in Pakistan and across the globe. TDI is now offering Amazon Kindle Self Publishing Services to diplomats, ambassadors, political leaders, academicians, and other civil society leaders to be the next best-seller authors. With access to 11 global markets and the option to translate your work into 11 languages, you can reach up to 300 million readers worldwide and unlock your personal and country branding.

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