PR No. 157 Reducing Economic Impacts Of Aridity, Desertification In Pakistan Needs Policy Research Focus Islamabad
Climate Change Ministry Secretary, Arif Ahmed Khan, has underscored a need for scientists and researchers in Pakistan to steer policy research focus towards solutions direly needed for combating climate change-induced expanding aridity and desertification in the country.
“Pakistan is in a pressing need of research-based workable solutions to fight expanding desertification and aridity, which are devouring rich fertile land. If not tackled, these climate change-induced natural events can badly hurt the country’s agro-based economy and lead to food insecurity,” Khan warned while addressing a high-level gathering of internationally acclaimed climate change scientists, policy researchers, development experts and economists from Overseas Development Institute United Kingdom; Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics; Centre for Climate Change Studies at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Innovation, Environment et Developpement En Afriquie Senegal; Kenya Markets Trust and International Development Research Centre – Canada.
These institutes are part of an international consortium Pathways to resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE). The delegation was led by the Executive Director Dr. Abid Suleri of the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).The climate change secretary said that the desert dwellings and natural habitats are highly fragile and are likely to be more vulnerable as impacts of climate change grow from bad to worse and afflict the country’s efforts meant for achieving sustainable development goals. These fragile arid and semi-arid ecosystems are in urgent need of integrated conservation approaches for adaptation to climate change.
“However, For ecosystem maintenance and introduction of innovative crops and livestock management in the arid and hyper arid areas in light of impending climate change impacts, policy measures like achieving technological breakthrough for irrigation systems to raise vegetative, ensuring building vegetative barriers for safeguarding against sand storms near human habitats, encouraging development of technological innovations for improved water efficiency for crops, including artificial groundwater recharge, undertaking development of drought resistant shrubs, fodder crops and grasses for pastures and oasis for livestock and promoting sand dune stabilization and soil moisture conservation techniques; and Ensure sustainable harvesting of indigenous dry land tree species are inevitable,” he suggested. Of the country’s total nearly 79 million hectares of land, around 80 percent of land is arid and 40.6 million hectares (51%) land is desertified, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The secretary Arif Ahmed Khan told the delegation that adaptatn to these climate change impacts also requires change in the lifestyle as a whole.
“Identifying research-based solutions and promoting them at all levels for reducing wastage of water, energy at domestic, industrial and agriculture levels, and avoiding food wastage as a part of transforming the lifestyle can help boost country’s adaptation to climate change,” the secretary said.
Talking about pathways to resilience and low-carbon development efforts in Pakistan, the secretary Arif Ahmed Khan said that several policy suggestions to achieve these very goals have been made in the national climate change policy. In this regard, the ministry is working with governments of provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) to actualize these policy suggestions to achieve the sustainable development goals in the country. Water policy experts of the United Kingdom-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Mr. Guy Jobbins, on behalf of his organization offered all-out support in all possible forms and work with the climate change ministry to help Pakistan adopt the pathways to resilience and low-carbon development.
“We welcome such offer for support and collaboration and the ministry would think out ways to engage on these issues,” the climate change secretary told Mr. Guy Jobbins. Earlier, SDPI’s executive director Dr. Abid Suleri told the meeting participants that pathways to resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) consortium is a five-year, multi-country research project that generates new knowledge about how economic development in semi-arid regions can be made more equitable and resilient to climate change.
The consortium aims to strengthen the commitment of decision-makers in local and national governments, businesses and trade bodies to rapid, inclusive and resilient development in these regions. It does so by deepening their understanding of the threats and opportunities that semi-arid economies face in relation to climate change.
He also said that PRISE research targets semi-arid areas across six countries in Africa and Asia: Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Pakistan and Tajikistan works on five thematic research areas which include climate risk; governance, institutions and finance, markets and businesses; ecosystems and natural resources; and people, communities and labour.
He said further PRISE research adopts a policy and development-first approach to engaging decision-makers in governments, businesses and trade bodies. Rather than starting with complex climate change projections, this research begins by identifying the decisions people need to make now about investment choices and development options for semi-arid regions.
The decision-makers and the research team decide jointly on the research questions and study areas to ensure that the research responds to demand. This approach means that PRISE has the flexibility to support policy makers and investors with quick-response research whenever the need arises, as well as the capacity to lead longer-term collaborative studies, Dr. Suleri elaborated.