Syed Murad, UN team discuss climate, restoration of Indus River Basin for 2023-27 framework

Sher Afzal

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and United Nations Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator to Pakistan Julien Harneis along with their respective teams on Monday discussed UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Network 2023-27 priorities to achieve Indus River Basin management, improved water access and utilization and economic development.
The UN Pakistan Chief Julien said that the current Sustainable Development Framework for the United Nations in Pakistan 2018-2022 would conclude in December 2022. He added that the UN in Pakistan was now in the process of working to prepare for the next 5-year program called the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2023-27.
Julien said that the new framework would be aligned with Pakistan’s priorities towards Agenda 2030 and would focus on supporting the government in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The chief minister discussing the issues said that his government’s strategic priority was focused on ‘Climate Change and Environment.
The strong prerogative being to support Indus River basin management and development to achieve a sustainable and healthy river Basin, improved water access and utilization, economic development, livelihoods, climate resilient settlements and prosperity of vulnerable communities living in the basin, he said.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said that Pakistan’s population of nearly 181 million was growing at 2 percent per year. “this population explosion has resulted in the country meeting the international definition of water stress—water availability in Pakistan has plummeted from about 5,000 cubic meters per capita in the early 1950s to less than 1,000 m3 per capita today,” he said and added “the Indus River basin flows from the mountains of Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and it feeds millions in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh.” he said.
He said more than ninety 95 percent of the population of Pakistan lived within its confines.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the river basin has sustained life, in what is now Pakistan, for over 5,000 years from the civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro until today. “However, climate change is shrinking the glaciers and making rains less predictable, reducing agricultural production and washing away the homes of the most indigent,” he said and added “pollution from industry and agriculture and domestic sewage is sickening tens of millions of people who drink from its waters.”
The CM Sindh said that contamination from arsenic, nitrates, metals, plastic waste, and microbiological contaminants were all at dangerous levels. “Environmental degradation at the river mouth is increasing salinization of the delta and destroying marine ecosystems and the fishing economy,” he said.
The CM Sindh said that without immediate and concerted action, this basin which has sustained life for millennia, would falter: agricultural production would drop, flooding to increase, contributing to malnutrition, water borne and non-communicable diseases, therefore the children, the agricultural workers and urban slum dwellers would be the most affected.
To galvanize progress on the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations is trying to accelerate its delivery of results within countries. The ambitious agenda is a commitment made by 193 governments in 2015 to boost social, economic, and environmental gains, while leaving no one behind. That’s why UN Member States have supported reforms to reposition the UN development system.
The chief minister formed a group of P&D departments with the UN team so that necessary paperwork could be finalized to firm up the suggestions for the upcoming project.
The meeting was held with the participation of provincial ministers, Nasir Shah, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Ismail Rahu, Jam Khan Shoro, Manzoor Wassan and Murtaza Wahab, Chief secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, and concerned secretaries of the department. On the UN delegation side the participates include Head of UN Resident Coordinator’s Office Shah Nasir Khan, Regional Coordinator UN Environment Programme Asia Pacific Regional Office Bangkok Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, Head of WFP Sindh Dr. Aftab Ahmed Bhatti, UN Regional Office Aban Marker Kabraji, Assistant UNFAO Representative Aamer Irshad, Provincial Coordination Officer Imran Khan Leghari and Additional Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Judith Ayaz.