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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives expedited efforts on a data governance framework for climate response and developed consensus among the concerned departments on establishing an inter-agency data sharing governance system.

In this regard, a workshop titled, “Data Governance to Modernise Hydro-Met Services & Impact Advisories in Pakistan,” was held at the ministry on Saturday, led by Dr Asim Zia who is a Professor of Public Policy and Computer Science in the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics and the Director of the Institute of Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDs) at the University of Vermont.

Leading experts and decision-makers from various governmental agencies including Planning Ministry, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Aviation, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA); Federal Flood Commission (FFC); Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD); Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA); Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) participated in the workshop.

Alarming threat of global warming and lagging climate finance

After a detailed and thorough deliberation, a major consensus emerged on establishing an inter-agency data sharing governance system. This involves either creating a new centralised entity with the mandate to acquire, store or stream all available data from relevant agencies or empowering existing agencies by hazard type within their jurisdiction mandate to manage data acquisition and dissemination efficiently, with a focus on scalability, cybersecurity and privacy.

The workshop highlighted the immense potential of “active learning” for enhancing hazard forecast skills. This approach involves real-time data assimilation and building operational capacity within governmental agencies like the PMD, FFC, SUPARCO, Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) and NDMA. Moreover, the need to reduce redundancies in data collection across agencies and to clearly define operational mandates was emphasised.

Investments in developing and testing integrated social-hydro-meteorological models were identified as crucial for improving the precision and accuracy of impact advisories.

Additionally, the workshop underscored the importance of using social media apps and crowd-sourcing to gather extensive data from the public, which will aid in refining the design of impact advisories.

The workshop also fostered an agreement on improving resource efficiency and the communication of uncertainties associated with observation and model data and highlighted the necessity of systematic storage and archival of forecast data for benchmarking model performance.

The experts yielded several key recommendations, aimed at substantially improving the nation’s hydro-met services. There was the call for an urgent need to improve the geographical resolution of impact advisories and improved while more systematic quantification of the social, economic and environmental impacts of hydro-met hazards, including floods, droughts, heat waves, fires, and air and water quality issues.

Furthermore, the participants recognised the critical need to improve forecast skills for drought across all timescales, advocating for the integration of modern technologies such as crowd-sourcing and citizen science. These approaches are expected to provide vital data for model calibration, particularly in forecasting air and water quality. The operational agencies such as federal and provincial environmental protection agencies can deploy sensor networks to collect real-time air quality and water quality data.

This workshop marks a substantial step towards a more integrated, efficient and effective approach to managing hydro-met hazards in Pakistan. With a clear action plan and collaborative framework established, the path forward promises significant improvements in the nation’s hydro-met services and impact advisories.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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