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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman has said that Pakistan cannot afford around nine percent GDP losses owing to the climate change issues, wherein, Pakistan’s share in climate change is less than one percent.

Speaking at the concluding session of the second day of the Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit titled, “Changing Narratives”, the minister said, “Pakistan’s contribution to global carbon emissions is less than one percent, but here we are enduring 45 degrees Celsius heatwaves.”

The minister said that neighbouring India was one of the leading countries contributing to climate change and Pakistan is bearing the burden of its greenhouse gas emissions.

“In Pakistan, plastic waste equivalent to two K-2 mountains is generated annually and having signed the plastic treaty in Paris recently, I would request at least the big hotels to get rid of the plastic bottles that they’re serving water in”, she said.

Plastic was being eliminated globally, and Pakistan also has to eliminate plastic which was going into its ocean, she added. Support should be given to those industries which are shifting their business and operations to green technology and solutions, as big industries and companies are the biggest polluters, she said.

She said Siachen was the highest battlefield in the world, and the Siachen glacier was melting very fast which was directly jeopardising the local communities facing severe glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).

Senator Rehman said when glacial lakes erupt, they wash away bridges and small dams. The government was informing the local communities on the impending risk of GLOF through an early warning system being put in place that indicated expected the GLOF event.

She added that water scarcity would not happen now, but there was a need to control the use of this water. “Pakistan is facing serious environmental challenges and is not ready for the future in terms the climate and environment. It has suffered heavy losses,” Rehman said.

She queried, “Are developed countries doing anything for climate financing?” However, a conference on climate financing in France would be held in June, she added. International financial institutions were created to support developing countries, whereas, the conference in France would restructure the global financial system, including credit finance, she said.

The minister said that Pakistan had earned a chance in COP-27 and had consolidated a group at the international level to highlight the cause of appropriate climate finance to cope with climate change.

“Droughts and floods are the best examples of climate change. Pakistan will meet environmental pollution targets, it has pollution issues at the local level, but it has no role in global carbon emissions driving global warming,” she said.

The current financial system was not suitable for meeting climate finance goals as billions of dollars are needed for climate change prevention projects, she underlined.

Senator Rehman pushed the local pollution agenda as strongly as the international one, and she stated that Pakistan’s adaptive capacity for compliance with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is in question. Despite being a low emitter, Pakistan is a frontline state for climate change. She defined corporate CSR as too limited for the required effect. She stressed that more needs to be done for inclusivity, and rethink is in order. She urged media organisations to stop politicising climate change and give sufficient space to discourse around it.

Speaking at another session, Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat(retired), former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (2016- 2019), said that Pakistanis need to build a narrative for a better future, by following in the footsteps of the holy Prophet (PBUH)in letter and spirit. “We are required to think deeply about our political, social, and economic aspects. We need to come out of our comfort zones and take up bigger ideas instead of taking baby steps. We must match our policies with execution and take ownership of our political, national, and individual narrative.”

Former Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood stressed that the government has to intervene; “Focus on both skill-based education and a unified national curriculum are important to reduce the divide between the haves and the have-nots, secure the future of this country by ensuring social mobility for all.”

Dr Amjad Waheed, chief executive officer NBP Funds shared the worrisome statistics for the out-of-school children; “Out of the 53 million children, 23 million are out of school. Brick-and-mortar schools are not the solution with a shortage of teachers and funds.”

“The Digital Future-Emerging Issues” had six illustrious speakers delivering individual addresses by Muhammad Salman Anjum, Founder & CEO, Invoice Mate, UAE; Jouni Keranen, Executive Chairman, Kuuhubb& Partner, swiss One Capital; Oscar Ramos, General Partner, SOSV, Managing Director, Orbit Startups; Jimmy Nguyen, CEO, Blockchain for All, and Michael Foley, Regional Director, Airtel Africa. The topics ranged from Metaverse to Blockchain, as well as leadership and collaborative models. ZouhairKhaliq, Founder & General Partner, Teamup Ventures, summed up the learnings of the session in his speech.

Michael Foley spoke at length about the potential of the Metaverse and emphasized that Pakistan has immense untapped potential if it is fully explored. “Metaverse is the environment where users can immerse themselves and achieve greatness. People interact and can exchange ideas which shows the current trends of the emerging markets.”

Muhammad Salman Anjum stressed the need to build trust between banks, investors, and SMEs, so they can conduct transactions with ease. "We use Blockchain and AI, not just because these are buzzwords, but because they ensure efficiency of processes and effective fraud detection. With Invoice Mate, we will be playing the role of an aggregator and would be looking after due diligence to ensure a seamless process between banks and businesses.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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