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LAHORE: A three-day international conference on “Environment and Sustainable Development” on Monday began at the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of its Sustainable Development Study Centre (SDSC) to discuss the significance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their impact on the country’s future.

Member National Assembly Riaz Fatyana, the Convener of National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs, chaired the inaugural session of the conference marked by key note addresses from Prof Dr Shahbaz Khan from UNESCO China and Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi.

Provincial Minister for Environment Protection Muhammad Rizwan and GCU SDSC Director Prof Dr Faiza Sharif also addressed the inaugural ceremony. The theme of this year’s conference is “Partnership for the Goals”.

In his keynote address on “South-South Cooperation for Delivering a Knowledgebase for Sustainable Development”, Dr Shahbaz Khan put an emphasis on two key areas relative to the sustainable development goals i.e. climate change and biodiversity. He stated that the SDGs are interlinked and despite of all the challenges, Pakistan is still progressing well.

Dr Khan also talked about the significance of United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation working at local and provincial levels with a five-year cycle plan. He concluded his talk on the role UNESCO is playing in ending discrimination and promoting intellectual dialogue.

MNA Riaz Fatyana highlighted the efforts of government to promote academic excellence, environmental protection policies for solid waste management, noise and land pollution, plantation drive, ecotourism and conservation of national parks.

Talking about how SDGs put ageing firmly onto the agenda of development, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi put an emphasis on the issue of population aging and how sustainable development has helped bring the agenda on international level. He talked about the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda that is focused on social inclusion of older people and can be related to all SDGs.

“The sustainable development goals are relevant to older people in ending poverty for all sections of society including older people, ending malnutrition and hunger, and promoting health coverage that specifically include vulnerable sections of society i.e. people above the age of sixty,” the Vice Chancellor said.

Prof Zaidi concluded his speech on the remarks that sustainable development and inclusion of older people is a common challenge in regions like Eastern Asia and Latin America, but we must embark on agendas to help meet the sustainable development goals.

Provincial Minister Muhammad Rizwan said that the sustainability cannot be achieved overnight. “I have specifically focused to put an end on the poisonous emissions due to the hazardous waste by working on implementation policies during my tenure,” the minister said.

Rizwan also explained how only a slight change in global temperature would cause an irreversible damage. “As long as people don’t learn to take personal responsibility, governments from all the countries would never be able to save the environment,” he concluded.

In her opening remarks, Dr Faiza highlighted the importance of conference as an opportunity for researchers, scientists, industrialists, and policymakers to present their work to help meet Sustainable Development Goals through effective collaboration. She also highlighted the main themes of the conference in the area of sustainable agriculture and food security, water resources management and poverty alleviation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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