LAHORE - The Embassy of France in Pakistan and civil society partners including WWF-Pakistan are arranging a two-day conference starting at Alhamra from today (Tuesday).

The conference will formulate a comprehensive strategy for participating in the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.

Leading environmental experts from various organisations including Dr Ejaz Ahmad, Senior Director, WWF-Pakistan; Nathalie Dupont, Political Counselor, French Embassy; Olivier Huynh Van, French Embassy; Rina Saeed Khan, Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD); Taimoor Sohail, CCRD; Aisha Khan, Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization (MGPO); Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature-Pakistan (IUCN-Pakistan); and Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, Lead Pakistan, briefed the media about the purpose of two day conference in Lahore.

The Forum on Climate Change in Lahore comes at an important time; the 21st edition of the Conference of Parties (COP21) is scheduled to take place in Paris later this year. The 2015 Paris Climate Conference is going to be one of the largest ever events on climate, gathering all the member states of the UN, along with the major concerned civil society organisations and local authorities of these states, with the aim of reaching a new international agreement and devising new, solutions-oriented strategies to combat the changing climate.

The forum in Lahore is conceived as a prelude to the Pakistani participation at the international conference. The forum is an opportunity for the Pakistani government, NGOs and other related institutions to come together, discuss and share with the public the challenges posed by climate change in the country and the existing and future solutions to tackle it. The Paris Climate Conference is particularly significant for Pakistan as the country is one of the most vulnerable to climate change . Since the past few years, the country is facing the deadliest impacts of climate change in the form of floods, cloud bursts, droughts, cyclones, sea intrusion and heat waves. From the 2012 floods alone, Pakistan faced a loss of USD 6 billion, equivalent to one per cent of its GDP.

According to Dr Ejaz, Pakistan is grappling with a number of environmental issues such as floods, GLOFs, tropical cyclones, heat waves, shifting rainfall, river flow patterns, declining groundwater levels, droughts, expanding desertification, aridity and sea-level rise.