Watershed Management and Energy was the topic selected for the resource equity dialog in Peshawar held in April 2016. The case under consideration was the “Billion Tree Tsunmai (BBT)” project of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Government which has also been recognized at the international level. The Government of KP has pledged to plant a billion trees in KP “to improve density of existing forest and strive to invoke business orientation in Forestry”. Academia, civil society, government officials and researchers from Peshawar were part of the dialog. The key questions raised during the dialog were as follows;
- Who decides which resource e.g. water, land, trees etc. (Coming under mega development projects) is to be protected and why?
- Is there any balance of power in the decision-making chain from federal to local level regarding natural resource protection and management?
The Group Aspirations:
- People of KP aspire for a fair payment for its management of ecological services that it renders for the country. As an upper riparian location, a significant proportion of forests, rangelands, and watersheds are located in the province that render renewal and maintenance services to the country’s water and land systems. It notes that royalty for eco-services must be studied further for evidence to better understand the value of protecting natural resources for the whole country. These will be tied to payments to the KP government and communities by the nation in exchange for resource protection.
- Currently, the National Finance Commission (NFC) awards are given annually to the provinces of Pakistan according to population density of various regions. The NFC will better understand the tension between population, development needs and ecosystem services rendered by regions such as KP and adapt the way in which it makes annual awards according to a fairer economics of needs and services rendered.
- KP will be able to negotiate with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) decision-makers at the federal level by articulating what are its ecological assets and what level of investment is needed to protect them in exchange for KP’s offerings to CPEC in the form of access, etc.
- Private sector has to be brought in for energy projects. Clean energy production, forest conservation and water management can help earn international benefits and finances such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD)