ISLAMABAD: Commenting on the challenge of Climate Change and strategies to mitigate the crisis, Malik Amin Aslam stated that Pakistan was the most vulnerable country at the risk of bearing the impacts of climate change and needed to come up with nature-based solutions.
He was speaking at the two-day international conference titled “South Asia: Emerging Opportunities and Challenges” organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) here on Thursday.
He said that it was important to realize that South Asia was home to one of the top 3 global polluters, i.e., India and two of the most climate-vulnerable countries, i.e., Bangladesh and Pakistan. Pakistan had a few global hotspots, which could become unliveable in times to come because of the increase in global temperatures, he added. The Minister further said that the most worrisome aspect of climate change was the potential climate-induced migration that could take place causing 400 million people to become climate migrants in South Asia, half of them from Bangladesh. He added that the current government was committed to finding sustainable solutions which were possible only after collective action. In this lieu, he mentioned the Living Rivers Initiative, which he was hopeful would commence by April this year. He explained that the Initiative was aimed at emphasizing the significance of preserving river ecology.
Aisha Khan, CEO of Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC) said that Pakistan was the fifth most vulnerable country among South Asian countries at the risk of suffering from the most horrific impacts of climate change. She said that the issues related to climate change were deeply intertwined, especially in the case of Pakistan, ranging from water management to poor air quality and glacial melts to inadequate mechanisms for ecological preservation. Climate change was a phenomenon that had no respect for boundaries, she added, and hence its mitigation required multilateral solutions. She recommended that promoting hydro-electricity was the need of the hour in addition to promotion of effective information-sharing systems on crisis management. She added that there was also a need for a more coordinated research on Climate Change and promotion of tourism for social harmony. Expanded tourism was imperative to inculcate sensitivity for this shared ecology, she said.
Admiral (R) Iftikhar Ahmed Rao, Senior Expert on Maritime Affairs while commenting on the security of high seas said that although Pakistan had taken many tangible steps, there was an urgent need for collective efforts at both regional and international levels, to properly address the threats posed by the seas, like piracy, arms smuggling and maritime terror.
Kosh Raj Koirala, Associate Editor Republica Daily, Nepal while commenting on the growing challenge of misinformation, propaganda and fake news said that it was of elementary importance to reinstate the trust of people in media and journalism. He added that while the elimination of any gateway in the form of social media outlets had removed the barriers to the flow of information and at the same time had compromised authenticity.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, Mr Khalid Mansoor talked about regional connectivity in South Asia and the significance of CPEC. He said that the unique position of Gwadar was better than any other port, hence it was the jewel in the crown of the BRI. He dispelled the impression that CPEC was China-centric. He said that we were now receiving requests from the EU and North America to give them access to the Gwadar Port.
Dr RONG Ying, President China Institute of International Affairs (CIIS) said that Regional development through CPEC was certainly helpful in addressing longstanding regional socio-economic problems as well as the regional security problems of the South Asian region. He added that Pakistan and China should feel proud of what they had achieved so far in building infrastructure for the successful implementation of the CPEC project.
Dr Shahab Enam Khan, Professor of International Relations at the Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh said that there was a dire need to bring forth positive narratives to counter the bottlenecks that were created by negative narratives. He added that revival of SAARC was imperative to achieve shared prosperity and a stable South Asian region.
Other notable speakers at the conference were Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Director General Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, Dr Ashfaq Ahmed from University of South Asia, Dr Saeed Ahmed Rid from Quaid-i-Azam (QAU) University, and Ms Ammarah Durrani from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).