Islamabad, 6 June 2022 (TDI): Pakistan along with the entire world celebrated World Environment Day, which is observed worldwide on 5th June.

The event is held annually by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to highlight the importance of nature and the need to protect it.

Each year, a different topic is chosen to commemorate this day in order to emphasize its central message. The theme for this year, “Only One Earth,” encourages us to live in complete harmony with nature without becoming a burden to it.

According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the ‘One Earth’ campaign for World Environment Day 2022 calls for global collective, transformative action to celebrate, protect, and restore our planet.

World Environment Day is a reminder to pay more attention to Mother Earth. Pollution, climate change, and ecological imbalance are causing a huge ecological disaster, which World Environment Day is meant to bring to attention.

On World Environment Day, Pakistan must also to rethink its strategies to mitigate environmental risks. Climate change is expected to have a wide range of effects on Pakistan.

These include a drop in agricultural production, less reliable water supplies, more erosion, seawater intrusion, as well as drought, and extreme weather.

Water Scarcity

Pakistan is suffering from severe water scarcity and climate change is wreaking havoc on its crops, with experts predicting that the country will run out of water by 2040 if officials do not implement long-term solutions.

Climate Change and Pakistan’s water security

In a 2018 assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranked third among countries with significant water scarcity.

According to UNDP and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) reports, the South Asian nation will face an absolute water shortage by 2025.

Economic Loss

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 annual report, Pakistan lost 0.53 percent of its GDP per unit between 1999 and 2018, suffered economic losses totaling $379.52 million, and experienced 152 extreme weather events between 1999 and 2018.

Global Climate Risk Index

Similarly, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study found that the socioeconomic consequences of environmental degradation are significant, with annual climate adaptation costs ranging from $7 billion to $14 billion.

Environmental Risks

Rahat Jabeen writes on a World Bank blog that Pakistan loses approximately 27,000 hectares of natural forest each year.

She claims that due to a lack of alternative energy sources, roughly three-quarters of the country’s population is dependent on forest resources.

According to renowned environmentalist Tariq Banuri, air pollution has become a major issue in many parts of the country, negatively impacting health, transportation, and mobility.

While water pollution kills thousands of people each year. Approximately 80% of Pakistan’s population lacks access to safe drinking water.

The research, titled “Plastic Debris: A Journey Down the Indus River Basin in Pakistan,” is the first of its kind. It was carried out along the Indus River Basin to determine how much trash, mostly plastic, enters the river system.

Green waste, despite having the second-highest fraction of waste detected, is not considered a serious pollutant. It accounts for 25% of the total solid waste collected during the survey.

It is the second-largest waste component in the study. The industrial waste also contributes significantly to solid waste as well.

Heatwaves

With temperatures in the middle 40s Celsius, Pakistan is experiencing a “lethal” heatwave. This has brought up the nation’s climate change crisis once more.

Experts have warned that the country’s agricultural sector is suffering as a result of the sudden heatwave. For instance, mango production in Pakistan has also been impacted, with local experts estimating a 60% decrease.

Government Strategies to Mitigate Environmental Risks

The government established the Eco-system Restoration Initiative (ESRI) to assist Pakistan in becoming more environmentally resilient by combining adaptation and mitigation in environmentally friendly ways.

These include afforestation, biodiversity conservation, aligning the policy environment with Pakistan’s NDC objectives, and achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).

In essence, during COP-25, the Pakistani delegation was able to secure six positions on various United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committees. This shows the UNFCCC’s faith in Pakistan’s commitment to climate negotiations.

Ministry of Climate Change Initiatives

The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has taken the following critical steps:

  • Pakistan’s government has authorized the National Electric Vehicle Policy, which aims to convert 30% of vehicles to electricity by 2030 in order to reduce carbon emissions and associated costs.
  • In addition, Karachi has launched the world’s first “zero-emission” metro line project.
  • A “Clean-Green Cities Index” has been developed to promote better waste management and sanitation.
  • Pakistan has also decided to discontinue the use of single-use plastics in order to reduce its use of plastic.
  • Pakistan’s forest area is 4.51 million hectares or 5.01 percent of its total land area.
  • The forestry industry currently accounts for 0.41 percent of GDP.
  • The government has tried a variety of measures to increase forest cover.
  • The Seasonal Tree Planting Campaigns, the Clean Green Pakistan Index,  Citizen Engagement Program, and the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program (TBTTP) are the most notable accomplishments in this field

Pakistan has consistently been identified as one of the countries most affected by climate change. Most people agree that climate change is a spatial problem.

Mitigating the hazards it poses will be a massive undertaking that will necessitate well-coordinated national and global efforts.

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