Provincial Consultative Workshop Muzaffarabad AJK

Oct 19 2017 | 01:10:27
             Keeping the historical and future trends of climate change at the national, provincial and state level, the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change held a consultative workshop for developing recommendations for an institutional framework for achieving the objectives of the provincial climate change policy that has recently been adopted by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government.  
              Among those speaking at the event were Federal Secretary Climate Change Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, AJK Minister for Planning & Development, Finance and Health Dr. Muhammad Najeeb Naqi, the AJK Addl. Chief Secretary for Planning & Development Dr. Asif Hussain, Executive Director of the Global Change Impact Studies Center Dr. Tariq Banuri, Chief Executive of Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change Ms. Aisha Khan, and Research Fellow at Sustainable Development Policy Institute Dr. Imran Khalid. 
           The event was well attended by the public sector official, civil society actors, academia and media persons. Giving introductory remarks, Ms. Aisha Khan welcomed and thanked the dignified guests, speakers and participants for attending this very important event for developing recommendations and mapping out a framework for the implementation of the newly established AJK climate change policy.
                 Dr. Imran Khalid from SDPI stressed upon the need for focusing on adaptation and the integration of adaptation measures into all planning and development processes. He also mentioned the need for raising awareness and knowledge about climate change issues in the local communities and the public since they are the ones who actually make an impact regardless of how well the policies are made. 
                       Dr. Asif Hussain described the highly important profile of AJK, particularly in terms of environment, water, and forests; glacial rivers that are critical to the water network system of Pakistan, namely the Neelum, Jhelum, Punch, and Kunhar Rivers, flow through AJK from Indian Occupied Kashmir and onwards to the rest of Pakistan. This in turn makes the AJK region extremely important to the climatic and environmental profile of Pakistan. Dr. Asif Hussain described the serious challenges faced by AJK from climate change including droughts, dwindling forest cover and a shift in monsoon and precipitation patterns, which in turn affect the cropping and farming patterns, among other negative consequences. 
                    Secretary Syed Abu Ahmad Akif highlighted that many development initiatives specifically related to environment and climate change are largely carried out through international development assistance and the government also needs to increase funding for these sectors. Secretary Akif added that climate change is a reality that can no longer be deferred or ignored. He said that approximately 50% of AJK was under forest cover in the pre-partition era, which has now been reduced to less than 10%. 
               Dr. Tariq Banuri stated that climate change can no longer be treated as a threat that may occur at some point in the future. On the contrary, he stressed upon the fact that the phenomenon is already here, and we are living in the age of “committed climate change”, which has two major impacts: firstly, the increased occurrence of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heatwaves, cold waves, and storms; and secondly, the movement and increased prevalence of diseases across elevations, altitudes, and geographical locations.  
               Dr. Muhammad Najeeb Naqi reiterated the strategic and geographical importance of AJK from an environmental and natural resource perspective and the need for addressing climate change and environmental risks to the region to safeguard regional and national interests. He stated that among other factors, the rivers of AJK flow through the entire length of Pakistan all the way south to Sindh. He said that it is critical in this regard to address climate change risks through appropriate adaptation measures and upstream watershed management. The Minister further pledged all-out government support to all stakeholders including civil society for further strengthening the subnational climate change policy and its implementation.