KARACHI - The 17th meeting of National Coordinating Body (NCB) of Mangroves for the Future Programme (MFF) Pakistan was organised by IUCN Pakistan on Friday at the HEJ - Institute of Chemistry. 

The meeting was chaired by Federal Secretary of Ministry of Climate Change Abu Ahmed Akif and attended by relevant government officials, coastal authorities, Pakistan Navy, representatives of the provincial government agencies of Sindh and Balochistan, the private sector, NGOs, academia and research institutions.

In his opening remarks, Abu Ahmed Akif highlighted key successes the ministry achieved jointly with IUCN and other stakeholders as well as brought focus on numerous coast related issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan, resented the background and context that led to the creation of the Mangroves for the Future programme (MFF), and how the National Coordinating Body was put together and the mandate it served. “NCB is a coordinating body and the only platform that brings together all relevant coastal stakeholders to discuss issues pertaining to coastal sustainability.”

He highlighted the declaration of Astola as Pakistan’s first marine protected area, “achieved through the support of the Ministry of Climate Change as well as the provincial government of Balochistan, with technical support provided by IUCN.” He urged climate change and genera sects be brought into consideration for future initiatives pertaining to the coasts.  He also highlighted the GCF project that IUCN was targeting for another five-year programme along the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan.

NIO, using different maps of Sindh and Balochistan coasts, explained that a survey was in the process of being launched along the coast to obtain further data. The focus, it was noted, was to assess tidal inundation and sediment monitoring to gauge land subsidence. “Research confirms that human interference is sinking deltas four times faster than the rise in sea level,” NIO added.

The representative of the National Institution (NIO) quoting various studies observed that “Most deltas around the world are sinking as they are unable to grow rapidly enough to keep pace with the rising sea level –the Indus Delta faces a similar issue, only coupled with numerous other factors, including human.” The NIO has conceived a project to conduct various scientific studies on the same lines to gather data to ascertain the causes and impacts of the sea intrusion in the coastal areas of Pakistan.

Representatives of the Balochistan Forest Department explained the process that led to the declaration of Astola as an MpA, and said they were in the process of developing a management plan for the island – urging organizations such as IUCN, the Ministry, NIO, to assist. “IUCN is organising a workshop on Astola management planning and will draw support from its regional and global technical expertise, using a scientific approach and capitalising on best practices from other parts of the world. 

Ghulam Qadir Shah, National Coordinator MFF Programme presented details of the progress made under MFF in Pakistan and the programme’s future plans – citing key achievements.