LAHORE - World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) organised a capacity building workshop on climate change to sensitize journalists and urged them to play their role in creating climate change awareness amongst the masses.

The workshop, organised at Lums (Lahore University of Management Sciences), was attended by journalists from print and electronic media. Participants agreed that Pakistan is seriously affected by climate change but appropriate steps have not been taken to mitigate it.

Secretary Environment Protection Department, Anwar Rashid highlighted the role of the government in mitigating the impacts of climate change. He further noted that individuals should step up and take responsibility in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Speaking on the importance of climate change he said, “Climate change is affecting our agriculture, our resources and we need to pay special attention to environmental issues. We need to create a better environment for generations to come.”

Rab Nawaz, Director Sindh said, “We’re losing land due to climate change because of sea level rise. Damage by floods is the main problem creating an immense problem for the nearby communities. The cost of flooding is 12 billion dollars, equivalent to the cost of building the Bhasha Dam.”  Increase in temperature gradually affects the ecosystem, however the problem in every area is different. In the northern areas the problem is glacial lake outburst floods.

In Sindh, due to climate change mangroves are disappearing, even land is being lost, as millions of hectares of land is lost due to sea intrusion.

Further talking on the role of WWF-Pakistan in mitigating climate change, Rab Nawaz added, “Due to WWF-Pakistan’s Indus For All programme, 7500 ha of mangroves of Indus Delta have been restored in creek areas.”

Reducing community’s ecological footprint (solar interventions, biogas plants) is also being implemented to reduce dependence on natural resources. Pakistan has more than 200 wetlands, which are greatly affected by climate change. Due to that migratory birds have also changed their patterns.”

Babar Khan, explained climate change impacts in the northern areas. He explained said trends and changes in snow cover which lead to increased threats to endangered species i.e. snow leopard, as their habitat gets restricted to specific areas only. Specific vegetation types have also been affected.

“Changing weather patterns have also changed the livelihoods of the local communities.” Livestock predation has increased over the past 40 years and climate change is disrupting the ecosystem. Physical losses are also occurring in the form of glacial outburst floods. Engaging with schools and local communities to create awareness among the public is another area which WWF-Pakistan is working.

Ibrahim Khan, WWF-Pakistan stressed the role of REDD+ (Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation) and the financial benefits that can be awarded to those who take steps to reduce deforestation. REDD+ is an initiative to conserve forests and not to harm them. He further elaborated the need to conserve forests and in return communities can get financial benefits, which will benefit the entire region.

Dr Ejaz, Senior Director, WWF-Pakistan said, “According to German Watch Institute, Pakistan is ranked among the top ten countries affected by climate change.” This year Pakistan was ranked number three among the top 10 countries affected by climate change which shows high vulnerability to climate risks.

Shahid Abbas, Deputy Director, Meteorological Department said that, “Floods are a natural phenomenon, we can’t stop it but we can manage it.” Going through all the accumulated data it can be observed that these extreme temperatures are the result of climate change.

The eastern rivers of Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum have more frequency of floods. Stating the importance of conservation Mr. Abbas stressed on the need to avoid encroachments in river banks, as river bank settlements are high risk areas and people must avoid settling there.

It was agreed that journalists should raise these issues at the national level, stating the importance of environment in our daily lives and seeking government support regarding their role in mitigating impacts. Experts concluded that climate change is the bad decision of governments that lead to issues. Humans lead to the destruction of this environment and humans themselves are the sufferers.

Rina Saeed Khan, Environment Journalist while addressing the participants of workshop said, “Pakistan isn’t contributing anything to increase climate change but it’s among the top 10 countries most affected by it.”

She stressed the need of efficient policy making by the government in order to mitigate its impact.

In the workshop it was also discussed that communities should be strengthened against the impacts of climate change. As these people are on the front line of climate change. Communities should be trained and necessary technology should be provided to make them climate resilient. Glacial lake outburst flood, water security and disaster risk reduction techniques should be shared among the public so that they understand the phenomenon of climate change and take necessary steps to mitigate it.

At the end of the workshop everyone agreed to abide by the fundamental principles of environmental conservation and playing an active role in mitigating the impacts of climate change as well as promoting conservation at large.