ISLAMABAD - The Federal Environment Ministry has finalised comprehensive programmes for celebrating 2009 as the National Year of Environment. Various programmes regarding the year were given final touch in a consultative meeting held here on Tuesday. Federal Minister for Environment Hamidullah Jan Afridi chaired the meeting. Representatives of the provincial governments, NGOs, donor organisations and senior officials of the ministry also attended the meeting. The meeting decided to launch full-scale awareness campaign throughout the year and agreed that separate events would be held on the occasion of every programme to be launched by the Ministry. The national year of environment would commence with the issuance of commemorative stamps on January 1, 2009, followed by an international conference and exhibition in February 2009, it was decided in the meeting. Other programmes to be launched by the Ministry during the Year include Pakistan Clean Air Programme, Pakistan Water and Sanitation Programme, Green Cities Programme, Mass Aforestration Programme, Clean Rivers Programme, Hygiene and Sanitation Programme in Schools, Villages Clean up Programme, launching of massive campaign for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Climate Change; Adaptation and Mitigation Plans, Solid and Hospital Waste Management Programmes and Coastal and Marine Pollution Control Programme. Secretary Environment, while highlighting the importance of National Year of Environment, suggested preparation of a calendar of events to be undertaken during the year by the federal and provincial ministries of environment. He asked the provincial and district governments to earmark adequate budgetary allocations for initiating various programmes. A committee, chaired by Additional Secretary Environment, has been constituted to chalk out the list of activities during the year.           Talking to the media persons after the meeting, Afridi said that 2009 was a right time for launching full-scale national level plans in all sectors of environment as, he said, the National Environment Policy, National Sanitation Policy, National Energy Conservation Policy and CDM Strategy had already been approved by the Cabinet and were ready for implementation. He hoped that the implementation of the mentioned policies would offset the huge cost of environmental degradation, which he informed was recently estimated by the World Bank to the tune of Rs 360 billion per annum. The environmental degradation cost amounted to 6% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan, the Minister maintained. He said that Pakistan incurred heavy economic loss due to severe climate conditions emerged from the degradation of environment. He said that the impact of climate change due to human activities was visible from disturbed bio-diversity, desertification, low agricultural productivity, endangered water availability and food security, deteriorating health conditions, heavy rains, unusual floods, droughts, melting of glaciers and glacial lakes' outburst. He said that it was time to protect the country's environment and ensure safe future for the generations to come.