On 14th August 2017- Reclaiming Green Islamabad (RGI) celebrated the 70th birthday (Independence Day) of Pakistan by launching its first activity; a plantation drive supported by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung. The aim of the activity was to raise awareness on environmental issues and translate words into action with regards to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. RGI paid homage to Pakistan by planting 150 saplings of local species like with over 60 volunteers. A Key note titled “A story of trees to curb climate change” was delivered by Mr Amin Aslam, Global Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Chairperson of “The Billion Tree Tsunami”.
Reclaiming Green Islamabad (RGI) is a citizen’s movement to safe the green city of Islamabad and its resources. The campaign was initiated in 2017 based on the fact that humans in the present day are consuming natural resources faster than nature can restore them. Most of these resources are common goods which are freely available to everyone and have no boundaries such as air, sky, sun, water, forest, grasslands and wetlands. They should be used and distributed equally, but instead these commons are wasted and abused. The impacts of the degradation of these commons - mostly caused by the influence of markets over government institutions - are also beyond boundaries. This commodification of natural resources not only ignores the rights of humans, but also the rights of nature.
Unfortunately, the idea that nature has its own rights is not very well recognized in Pakistan. Pollution, deforestation and environmental destruction to fulfil temporary financial needs and market interest are common practices. One of such drivers of environmental destruction is the development of urban infrastructure. Over the past years Islamabad has seen drastic expansion in its population, without adequate planning. This has led not only led to a construction boom, violating laws around green protected areas, but also put stress on the resources of the city in multiple ways. Water scarcity, increased waste, air pollution and deforestation are among the most pressing environmental concerns of Islamabad today. The RGI movement is an active citizen’s forum, where volunteers gather to contribute their part in reclaiming common space and protecting the scarce resources of this city. With plantation drives and similar campaigns, RGI will raise awareness for the cause and make all citizens and the authorities realize that there is no planet B.