Pakistan among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks
National Symposium on Vulnerability of Pakistan’s Water Sector to the Impacts of Climate Change
held on 31 May, 2016
Islamabad, Pakistan, 31 May 2016- Climate change has important ramifications for the water sector in Pakistan. Mainly as a result of rapid population growth, surface and ground water availability per head is low and decreasing in Pakistan; the country is now among the most water-stressed in the world. Climate change will further impact water availability in the coming decades, primarily through increased variability as precipitation becomes more erratic and the volume of water generated by glacial melt is altered. As a result, both floods and droughts are expected to become more frequent and intense
Despite increasing awareness of the risk climate change poses for its water resources, as acknowledged in the NCCP, Pakistan did not have a comprehensive evaluation of how changing climatic conditions are or could adversely affect these critical resources and how to act to reduce vulnerability. The absence of a clear understanding of vulnerability in the water sector, and the rigor behind this understanding, could impede decision making as Pakistan moves forward on implementing the NCCP in such sectors as agriculture, forestry, national disaster planning and hydropower development.
Keeping this in view the Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping of Water Resources of Pakistan was initiated in July 2015 with financial and technical assistance of Overseas Technical Unit of the Italian Embassy in Pakistan and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The initiative was spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate Change at the federal level and will assist the Government of Pakistan to improve decision-making capacity within government ministries, research institutes, and the general public in relation to water resources management in a changing climate.
The National Symposium on Vulnerability of Pakistan’s Water Sector to the Impacts of Climate Change was heldon 31 May, 2016 at Islamabad to finalize the final report of this study which will at large identify gaps and recommendations for action with primary focus on a systematic review of current understanding of the potential changes in Pakistan’s hydrological regime due to climate change, identification of critical knowledge gaps, and prioritization of the means by which these gap might be filled on an urgent basis. This study is part of a broader effort to address the vulnerability of Pakistan to the impacts of climate change. The study would provide concrete recommendations to the Government of Pakistan, relevant stakeholders at national and provincial level and the general public at large regarding the vulnerability of Pakistan’swater sector to the changing climate.
The Symposium was chaired by H.E. Mr. Stefano Pontecorvo, Ambassador of Italy in Pakistan along with Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary Climate Change, Government of Pakistan. In his Welcome address H.E. Mr. Stefano Pontecorvo highlighted the adverse impacts of climate change for Pakistan and reiterated support of Italy in addressing this issue. The welcome address was followed by remarks from Dr. Domenico Bruzzone, Head – Italy’s Development Cooperation Agency. In his opening remarks Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary Climate Change thanked the participants for attending the Symposium and highlightedthat Pakistan’s launch of its National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) in February 2013 has stimulated national and international interest in its response to climate change. The NCCP expresses the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to achieving climate resilient development, with a clear focus on the need to adapt to the climate risks of today and tomorrow given the country’s vulnerability to climate change.
The technical experts Ms. Jo Ellen Perry and Mr. Hisham Osman from International Institute of Sustainable Development, Canada and Dr. Toqeer Ahmed from Centre for Climate Research and Development, COMSATS gave a detailed presentation on the final report of the study, followed by feedback and comments from the participants. This was followed by technical sessions during which national experts presented their papers on the subject. The key note speakers included Mr. Shams ulMulk, ex-Chairman WAPDA and Dr. Ghulam Rasul, DG Pakistan Metrological Department. At the end of the Symposium Ms. Tracy Vienings, Deputy Country Director, UNDP thanked all the participants and appreciated the efforts of all the partners for making this study a success.
The ceremony was attended by representatives from federal and provincial governments, national and international development partners, civil society organizations, academia, research institutions and media.
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