In continuation of its efforts around supporting Parliamentarians for improved policy making, Heinrich Boell Stiftung Pakistan in collaboration with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) once again organized a meeting with the Green Parliamentarians’ Caucus (GPC). The forum was established in 2016 when a number of parliamentarians gathered to discuss policy issues around environment and climate change.
On 19th October 2017 a group of parliamentarians sat together to discuss the state of climate change in Pakistan. The meeting was held on the eve of the first meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Climate Change. The agenda of the GPC meeting was focused on discussing drivers of climate induced challenges and the role of parliamentarians in planning and pushing for implementation of global commitments national level. The speakers at the meeting also discussed the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP-23) in Bonn this November.
The chairperson of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Climate Change, Mr. Malik Muhammad Uzair Khan found the meeting to be a warm up session for the formal first meeting of the caucus which was to be held the next day. He remarked that the meeting was not only helping the parliamentarians to talk beyond the set agenda of the caucus (the next day), but was also a way to be briefed with the latest information on climate change coming from evidence based research by a renowned think tank like SDPI. Mr. Uzair Khan said that for him the meeting had a three-pronged agenda i.e. to bridge the gap between parliamentarians and civil society organizations for addressing climate induced challenges, the role of parliamentarians in oversight of government budgeting and policy plans and discussion on upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP-23).
Dr. Abid Suleri shared statistics on climate change impacts in Pakistan, increased climate induced disasters, drivers of carbon emissions, national policy framework and initiatives. He emphasized that the monsoon plays a pivotal role in supporting the overall economy in Pakistan which is primarily based on agriculture. The frequency of natural disasters has increased and the only way to mitigate the impacts is through the right set of policies and practices. Globally, the most significant driver of climate change are greenhouse gases, caused by human activity such as industrial agriculture, increased use of automobiles, and burning of fossil fuels to cover the rising energy demand. Dr Suleri shared the various state level policy and programmatic initiatives around climate change in Pakistan including National Economic Framework, Vision 2025, National Climate Change Policy, Climate Change Commission, Climate Change Act, Framework for Climate Change Financing and REDD+; to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Along with these, the parliamentary task force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a good initiative since it looks at the problem holistically.
He also discussed the importance of COP-23 and the role of parliamentarians in helping to enforce the Paris agreement at the national level. He said the parliamentarians need to work with academia and civil society and the Green Parliamentarian Caucus is one such initiative.
The Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Mr Abu Ahmad Akif congratulated Malik Muhammad Uzair for forming the new Standing Committee on Climate Change in the National Assembly. He said that Pakistan is facing approximately 1 billion losses annually due to climate change with a meager amount of funds available with the ministry to deal with these losses. In this regard he also highlighted that the rapid rise of population has increased the vulnerability of Pakistan to climate change and its induced challenges.
The parliamentarians had several questions around droughts, COP23 and adaptation measures for agriculture in the wake of climate change. The experts in the room address these questions with a commitment to work in close lesion with the parliamentarians. The GPC was recognized by the parliamentarians as a forum that could help them respond better to this unprecedented challenge. The next meeting of GPC will be planned by the chairperson of the newly formed National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change