Pakistan faces 10th consecutive years of flood, 4th consecutive year of drought
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is facing the 10th consecutive year of flood and 4th consecutive year of drought which endorsed the fact that water has become a frontline issue for the countries’ like Pakistan.
Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University Dean Dr Adil Najam remarked this during his address at a public talk on Global Climate Change and its Implications for Pakistan, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), here under its Distinguished Lecture Series.
He said, “The world has entered into the age of adaptation, unlike mitigation which is something initial in the global environmental degradation scenario. Pakistan is the country facing climate change by and large which depends solely on the water where the climate is not a future issue but a current issue for the country.”
“Water is to adaptation what carbon is to mitigation. The frontline issues are mostly about water and for a country like Pakistan whose topography and terrain are disaster-induced. West India (mainly Pakistan) cannot survive without floods as the mother Indus River feeds the arid lands of the region. They are not bad rather our no mechanism for flood management turns it into a disaster causing heavy economic and human life losses to the country,” he added.
Dr Adil Najam while talking about the age of adaptation said vulnerability was inversely proportional to how much countries contribute.
“Even though a number of developing countries have taken the lead, but in many ways, most have stepped back. Institutional failures of any sort cause disruptions in the social fabric of a country. Cognizance is required that nature will not be a silent spectator. We have passed the age of mitigation and have landed in the age of adaptation,” he said.
“Countries which are emitting the most of carbon waste are those which are least affected by the effects of climate change. Almost 80 per cent of the wealth of the world lies with the 20 per cent of the world’s population which resulted in poor climate politics in response to climate action. However, these things do not make headlines anymore. Climate change is a global phenomenon which needs to be dealt in a wholesome manner as everyone is affected by its fallout,” he mentioned.
Narrating the consequent issues caused due to climate change other than water, he said, “If water is the frontline issue, then automatically, food is a key issue as well. Mobility is also one of the issues related to this as is infrastructure – a lot of problems can be solved by proper infrastructure in buildings.”
Dr Najam also spoke about climate and security, one of the dimensions of which was violence.
At the state level, it was clear that insecurity was shown as war. However, there was also insecurity at the societal level as well, which was why the number of civil violence deaths had been eight times more than those caused by war.
Pakistan was a country that was totally defined by the climate which was changing rapidly, he said adding the Attabad Lake was a prime example of climate change in this regard.
He pointed out that the world was moving towards loss and damage because of sheer negligence.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, ISSI Director-General Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the so-called traditional security discourse, while critically important, was also incomplete.
To ignore non-traditional dimensions of security was, in fact, to make the modern state less secure, including on national security.
Pakistan is one of the countries at great risk of the impacts of climate change. For Pakistan, water scarcity is one of the biggest security challenges arising out of the climate change issue. It is an existential threat. It is no longer long-term; it is immediate-term. It may even be as big or bigger than any inter-state threat we have from our very hostile neighbourhood. What we need is urgent action, he said.
In his concluding remarks, ISSI Board of Governors Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said there was now a growing awareness of the effects of climate change. Ignoring the impacts of climate change is no longer a luxury that any country can afford, least of all, Pakistan.
In order to meet the challenges, the country will first have to learn how to negotiate through these challenges and follow words with actions.
Pakistan has to increase efforts in the context of common but differentiated responsibilities to reduce domestic emissions from all sectors.
At the same time, the government should assess and identify local communities most affected and develop national and local adaptation strategies on how to deal with the impacts, relying on international support to do this. One example is through the Green Climate Fund, he concluded.