ISLAMABAD (APP) - Minister for Environment Hamidullah Jan Afridi Thursday underlined the importance of business communitys role in environmental improvement and urged them to cooperate with the government to mitigate effects of degradation. Business communitys role is vital to avert environmental degradation trends. I urge them to do their bit, the minister said addressing the 8th Annual Pakistan Environmental Reporting Awards (PERA) 2009 jointly organized by ACCA-WWF in connection with Earth Day. Afridi said that Pakistan has useful framework to address environmental issues in shape of Environmental Protection Act and National Environment Quality Standards. He said in prevailing global situation, it has become further imperative for the business community as donors and investors are much conscious about environment. The Minister lauded the hard work of all the companies who participated in Awards and said, the government is supportive of private sector initiatives like ACCA-WWF Pakistan Environmental Reporting Awards and is willing to work with ACCA and WWF to encourage greater buy in of the business community. The evening session commenced with welcomed remarks by Arif Masud Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan who emphasized on importance of best practices in environmental, social and sustainability. ACCA has set a benchmark for sustainable reporting. Many organisations recognized importance of sustainability and environmental reporting and continued growing standards, he said. Ms Aliya Mohydin, Manager Environment and Customer Services, Punjab Industrial Estates gave an overview of awards signifying the growing awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility. Ali Hassan Habib, Director General WWF Pakistan said, events like ACCA-WWF Business Earth Talk come a long way in increasing environmental awareness in the corporate sector, enabling discussion on this issue as well as awarding deserving companies. Even after 8 years of presenting the PERA awards, promoting sustainability, continues as a feature of key ACCA-WWF commitment, he added. The Discussion forum, Water: The Next Carbon focused on role for businesses in water management and challenges to them in a world where clean water is increasingly becoming a rarity. The panelist included Secretary Environment Javed Malik; Ali Hassan Habib, Director General WWF Pakistan; Arif Masud Mirza Head ACCA Pakistan; Syed Ahsenuddin, Vice President Engro Polymer and Chemicals and Farhan Sami, Country Team Leader WSP-SA, WB. Second discussion forum, Disclosing Transparency; The Changing Landscape analyzed challenges and opportunities for business reporting and stakeholders increasing information expectations. The panelist included Shafqat Kakahel, a Former Leading official of UNEP; Dr Afra Sajjad, Head of Education and Policy Development of ACCA Pakistan; Adil Khattak, CEO, Attock Refinery Limited; Ahmed D. Patel, Chairman-Executive Board, Ernst & Young Ford Rhodes Sidat and Markus Turczyn, Head of Finance, Procurement, Administration & IT, OMV (Pakistan) Exploration GmbH. Later, the Minister gave away award to winning companies. The winners for 2009 were Attock Refinery and Engro Chemicals, for Best Sustainability Report 2009; AES Lal Pir Thermal Power Station for Best Environmental Report 2009 in Multinational Category; National Refinery for Best Environmental Report 2008 in Local Listed Category. Qarshi Industries was awarded commendation for showing their commitment and consistency to transparency in reporting whereas Engro Polymer and Chemicals Ltd was awarded commendation for commitment to excellence in sustainability reporting.