KARACHI: In a dialogue on "Strengthening Environmental Compliance and Governance", speakers have called for urgent measures to enhance environmental compliance within the country's textile and leather industries.

Asif Hyder Shah, Secretary Federal Ministry for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination expressed his desire for equipping the concerned federal and provincial departments with a dedicated police force to enforce the standards.

The dialogue was organized by WWF-Pakistan under its project, Int'l Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan SMEs (ILES), which is supported by the European Union (EU) in partnership with the Int'l Labor Organization (ILO).

Although, scores of textile and leather industries are doing excellent work in complying with national and international environmental standards, others should follow suit, Shah said. He underscored that need for ensuring timely reporting against Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and added that the private sector should play its role in environmental sustainability and effective governance of natural resources.

He also mentioned that while Pakistan’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is less than one per cent, we are the one of the worst affected climate change victims. In the backdrop of these climate-induced events, we should improve our climate adaptation and resilience.

Following the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan in 2010, the environment became a provincial subject, and provinces developed their separate Environmental Protection Agencies. The event saw representatives of EPA at the federal and provincial levels including Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. This dialogue was part of a series of events held in different cities.

Dr Masood Arshad, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan said that compliance of environmental standards is essential for the sustainable development of Pakistan and will help promote a green economy. He said that textile and leather industries have an important role in contributing to the country's overall GDP.

He emphasized on the need for conserving freshwater widely used in these industries and called for a mechanism to bring the discharge of hazardous chemicals to zero. He was of the view that an effective communication and coordination strategy should be in place to improve the working and environmental compliance in these two important industries.

Waqar Hussain Phulpoto, Director Technical, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) lauded the efforts of WWF-Pakistan in building the capacity of the staff, technology transfer and financial support to the agency to tackle the challenges in ensuring the environmental compliance. He shared that the agency is working with the organization for the digitization of data regarding the compliance of environmental standards in textile and leather industries in the province. He said that SEPA is a regulatory body, but enforcement is weak as SEPA lacks a law enforcement force of its own. He also gave an overview of the activities which the agency has been carrying out since 2018 with support of WWF-Pakistan.

Sohail Ali Naqvi, Director - Lead Sustainability and Stewardship, WWF-Pakistan commented that the project has engaged 79 textile and leather enterprises for environmental compliance and reporting. He also said that around 300 professionals have been trained on compliance of the international environmental standards, adding that cleaner policy for Sindh province has been drafted in consultation with relevant stakeholders. He identified various success stories of environmental compliance and highlighted the need for avenues to report them at international level.

The dialogue urged the textile and leather industries to ensure the compliance with national and international environmental standards.

Samiullah Khan, Director General, Environmental Protection Agency, KP, Arjmand Qayum Amjad, Senior Manager, WWF-Pakistan and Mehak Sikander, Coordinator ILES project also spoke at the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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