Sherry unveils first-ever National Adaptation Plan

F.P. Report
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination Senator Sherry Rehman Wednesday unveiled the country’s first-ever National Adaptation Plan unanimously approved by the federal Cabinet to enhance nation’s resilience against adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
The minister flanked by Additional Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Syed Mujtaba Hussain briefed the media persons over the landmark achievement that remained unaccomplished due to poor interest of the previous regime. She said the country needed adaptation and resilience as after 2022 floods the devastation and scale of the disaster underscored its significance for the future of the nation.
The minister alleged said the adaptation plan had reportedly started in 2019 but she did not find any record of the document in the ministry. The team under the leadership of Additional Secretary Mujtaba Hussain worked extensively to create first ever adaptation plan which was a home grown plan and had been prepared with the input of the line ministries and provincial ministries, she added.
The minister informed that detailed consultations with all the provinces including the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) in the process of preparing the National Adaptation Plan as the ownership of the plan was important. She noted that it was the job of the ministry to prepare projects, policy and planning in the ambit of climate change and environment.
However, she said Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had already made their National Adaptation Plan in the region whereas some 40 countries all over the world had submitted their plans to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The minister said the plan was an important document that would be submitted to the UNFCCC.
On growing impacts of global warming on the region, she said climate stress was becoming like an emergency owing to the multiplying impacts of climate change. “We flagged ‘climate justice’ slogan at COP-27 [in Egypt]. Our greenhouse gas emissions are below one percent. We made it acknowledged across the world that Pakistan is in the frontline of global warming and it has been established world over,” Senator Rehman said.
The minister mentioned that currently the situation across the world showed forest fires going rampant which had been the case in Pakistan during the past year due to heatwaves. “Pakistan is having 53 degrees Celsius and it maintained this high temperature consecutively for three years,” she said.
Deliberating on the chapters of the Plan, she said a special chapter on risk and vulnerabilities was made as the country had been repeatedly among the top climate vulnerable countries’ ranking of the German Watch. She said no one could stop heatwaves but the associated risks like drought, hydro-meteorological events, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) etc. were manageable through timely interventions.
Pakistan had the world’s largest glaciers outside the polar region that were melting at a fast pace whereas in delta there was drought and salinity, she added. Moreover, the plan also discussed flooding and agriculture whereas the water and food nexus was established in the plan to study that how to maintain food security for the population, she said.
The minister underscored that Pakistan would go water scarce by 2025 that needed urgent focus whereas other areas like urban development, air pollution, land, water and others had also been focussed in the plan. She said that the plan had ministry and province specific strategies to achieve climate adaptation goal at the grassroots level as the local governments were the core of any adaptation plan. The ministry’s job was to guide provinces and therefore had developed partnerships in the plan and identified interventions as one province or ministry alone could not implement it, she added.
Senator Rehman highlighted that the planning and development of public sector development programme would be defined by the National Adaptation Plan. “We have also ensured permanent inclusion of women and marginalized communities whereas detailed guidelines have been prepared whereas it is an international standard document. The development planning would have the Adaptation Plan embedded in it,” she said. The minister said the plan had a focus on nature-based solutions like Living Indus initiative, Recharge Pakistan, mangroves plantation, afforestation and others. “It is all science and evidence based with the objective of leaving no one behind. It will be the slogan of next COP meeting,” she remarked. The minister informed that the people in Sindh affected by 2022 floods were being given housing and ownership of property.
The climate based development models would improve the country’s resilience towards natural disasters, she added. The minister said there was a lack of coordination among the ministries whereas all of them would have to work in cooperation and collaboration due to the crosscutting issues of environmental degradation. She said the first priority in the plan was agriculture water nexus as clear objectives were set in the document.
It also addressed areas like urban resilience as Pakistan was the most urban region of South Asia and 50% of its population was living in urban areas, she added. The minister said land use management, natural capital, gender, youth and social inclusion, disaster risk management, financing of National Adaptation Plan implementation strategy were also part of the document. She proposed the next government to form National Adaptation Plan Secretariat at the ministry to ensure institutional arrangements for implementing the plan.
The government would also support provinces to develop their adaptation plans, she said adding, “The ministry is recommending an expert group under the Pakistan Climate Change Council which is an important for a quarterly, monthly or as per the case review of the Plan’s implementation including monitoring and evaluation.” It was a technical document, a framework and road map for the provinces, she said.
At the end, she acknowledged the entire team for its efforts and also the World Bank who supported in the design and rewriting of the document as per international language. She appreciated that the prime minister also swiftly approved the plan without any debate and noted that the it was a consensus based approved document. Additional Secretary, Climate Change Ministry Syed Mujtaba Hussain said the document had a whole of country approach with line ministries, provincial departments and others on board making it a holistic document with whole of society approach.