LAHORE - Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan arranged a policy dialogue at a local hotel yesterday to discuss how provincial policies and strategies can best serve as vehicles for successful implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and of the ambitions articulated under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The event titled, 'Towards 2047: Policy Dialogue on Punjab’s Climate and Growth Policies & Strategies’, aimed to sensitize key stakeholders, including policy-makers and opinion leaders, to deliberate on a set of salient questions that are critical for the growth, development and well-being of the fast growing but vulnerable population of Punjab.

Various policy experts including Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, CEO, LEAD Pakistan and Director Asia, Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN); Dr Qaiser Bengali, Advisor, Government of Balochistan; and Tahia Noon, MPA Punjab, shared their views on how climate change threatens Punjab and what adaptation and mitigation options can help to address these issues effectively.

According to Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, ‘Poverty and climate vulnerability are intrinsically linked, and this reality makes it imperative to develop a pro-poor climate compatible development strategy for Punjab. This event is on step in the development of such a strategy.’

Following the keynote address by Dr Qaiser Bangali, in which he talked about rising inequality and how our greed is leading to the degradation of ecosystem services, the event featured two back-to-back roundtable discussions where experts talked about climate vulnerability of Punjab and proposed solutions to deal with it.

Basharat Saeed, Coordinator Climate Change Program, LEAD-Pakistan, highlighted the drivers of climate vulnerability in Punjab and emphasized the important role of vulnerability assessments in targeting service delivery and directing development interventions.

Dr Khalid Mohtidullah, an expert on water policy said that, ‘You can’t value what you can’t measure’, underscoring the need for research and data on availability, productivity and utilization of water in Pakistan. He concluded by saying that there are countries which have 1/100th the water that Pakistan has but have a higher value of agricultural output.

Dr Nasir Javed, CEO, Urban Unit, reminded the audience of the need to admit to our mistakes as the first step towards finding sustainable solutions. This was best captured by his claim, ‘The population growth is not the culprit but rather the lack of planning that is to blame.’

The policy dialogue helped policy-makers develop a greater understanding of the need for climate compatible development in Punjab. A lively debate took place as various experts involved in the planning and implementation of national and provincial development polices participated and gave their recommendations on how to make Punjab resilient to climate change.