The fourth triennial conference on resilience took place in Stockholm from 21st to 23rd august, in which nearly 1,000 researchers participated. On the agenda were ways to stop deforestation, protect coral reefs, make food healthier, and build cities that can cope with climate change. The conference aimed to chart a path through today`s turbulent times by bolstering `resilience` which means becoming more adept at living with pressures like a financial crisis or a flood, and using that ability to transform societies and economies for the better.

As environmental problems have become a global concern a shift has been noted from investigating the impact of environmental problems to understanding the linkages between human behaviour, environment and sustainable development. One of the core elements of sustainable development is to care for the environment. The world is taking environment and climate change issues seriously and trying to cope with the adverse situation on a war footing. Unfortunately nothing effective is being done in Pakistan. We are wreaking havoc on our environment by having no environment policies and not implementing those we have in letter and spirit. It is more unfortunate that our people are unaware that what sort of damage they are doing with the environment; both the rural and urban population.

Pakistan has few forests which are vanishing fast. The country has lost a quarter of its natural forests in the last two decades and because of that it is experiencing a high deforestation rate. Diminishing forests along with swelling population have resulted in loss of biodiversity, scarcity of water resources and increased air pollution. These effects of climate change can be judged by different factors like melting of glaciers, changes in animal and plant life, and increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. We are destroying our environment and we have clear examples of that:the previous year’s heat waves in Karachi, which claimed lives of more than 1,200 people. These environmental issues are also costing the government billions of dollars each year. According to Global Climate Risk Index 2016 by German Watch, Pakistan lost more than two billion dollars due to extreme weather events.

The countries which are concerned about the climate change are taking revolutionary steps to cope with this adverse change. For example, in order to deal with this situation, the Norwegian government plans to have no gas-fuelled cars on roads by 2020. Similarly, the UK and the French governments are mooting to put a complete ban on petrol and diesel cars till 2040. To reduce the burden on environment it is very much necessary that we make our lives simpler and encourage sharing things and minimise the wastage.

It is unfortunate that environmental conservation in Pakistan has not been given its due attention, and because of that promulgation of pro-environmental behaviour is still in its embryonic stage. There are multiple reasons for this but the two most important are the absence of political commitment and lack of environmental awareness among masses. There is one unique example of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s ‘billion tree tsunami’ project which is near completion. These trees are reinforcing riverbanks near Indus, Kunhar and Swat rivers and are also improving biodiversity. It will help KP by providing a green, breathable environment and build up Pakistan’s much-needed defence against the high climate vulnerability. In other words it is creating Pakistan’s best natural defence against climate change and aiding the global fight against global warming. According to an estimate the project also created 500,000 green jobs, some of which have gone to rural women and unemployed youth. The whole project is being monitored by using modern technology. It is also being recognised by the Bonn Challenge, a global partnership aiming to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020. This global recognition is a landmark for both KP and Pakistan.

Whether anyone supports the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf or not, no one can deny the fact that this is an environmental, economic and social success which other provinces should follow. If we don’t save our environment and deal with climate change then it will have an adverse impact on the future generations. Therefore, environmental awareness is the key to reduce carbon in our environment.

We can bring a big change by indulging our youth because if they realise the importance of conserving environment then their contribution will bring an enormous impact. Basic environmental science concepts, especially how human activity has led to climate change and global warming, must be included in educational curriculums. We should bring up our children into altruistic and responsible beings. Secondly, environmental awareness among common masses can reduce our carbon footprint. Wastage of natural resources such as water and gas should be condemned; use of plastic bottles and shopping bags should be minimized. Such measures need to be taken at the domestic level to save Pakistan’s environment.