Environmental decay causing Rs365 billion loss per annum
January 28, 2009
RE - Federal Minister for Environment Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi on Tuesday said that cost of environmental degradation in the country stood at Rs 365 billion per annum which was 6 per cent of the GDP.
He was addressing the two-day 'Global Environment Facility (GEF)-National Dialogue Initiative' here at a local hotel. Additional Secretary Ministry of Environment and GEF Focal Person, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi was also present on the occasion. Representatives of the government agencies, international organisations, academics, NGOs and research institutions also participated in the event.
Hameed Ullah Afridi said that chasing growth and development endeavors has put a heavy burden on environment sustainability. He said that environmental degradation continued at a fast rate, affecting livelihoods and health, in addition to increasing vulnerability of the poor to environment related conflicts. He said pollution of air and water, climate change, ozone depletion, deforestation, desertification and vanishing biodiversity, land degradation, lack of waste management, lack of urban land use planning and zoning, irrational use of natural resources have resulted in ecological imbalances, threatening life and civilization. These imbalances, created by man over time, needed to be addressed with strategic environmental planning and integrated management immediately, he stated.
The minister said that there were several other sectors affecting environment to a greater or lesser degree. These sectors come under the purview of different stakeholders and there is dire need to address these issues through collective multilateral collaboration, he said. He further said that environmental situation in Pakistan was not different from that of other developing countries. "High population growth rate, low level of public awareness and education, degradation of natural resources, fast urbanisation and industrial expansions are all responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves today," he commented. He said that government was committed to save the environment at all levels. He said that as a major step towards achieving this goal, 2009 has been declared as the National Year of Environment. The National Environment Policy, Sanitation Policy and Energy Conservation Policy have already been approved by the Cabinet and the time is ripe for launching plans and programs for the enactment of these policies, he stated.
Afridi apprised the participants that Vision 2030 envisages, a developed, industrialised, just and prosperous Pakistan through rapid and sustainable development in a resource constrained economy by deploying knowledgeable inputs; prepare for climate change and its likely unfavourable implications; and minimize wastage of natural resources as an important tool for preserving inter-generational equity. He said that the Ministry of Environment was also supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in its efforts towards environmental development.
"We have already endorsed the entire allocated GEF portfolio. The Ministry of Environment currently has 51 ongoing projects, along with 7 GEF funded projects. Multiple short-term ventures are also underway, through the GEF Small Grants Program. This program has been going on for more than a decade and has been extremely successful in implementing innovative ideas in different parts of the country. We have success stories about promoting sustainable use practices, such as saving endangered species, marketing of medicinal plants, protection of relic forests and introducing policy level interventions for promotion of renewable energy", he stated.
The minister emphasized that social and natural resource indicators continue to demonstrate the daunting development challenges facing the country. He stressed upon the need of strengthening environmental management to reduce risks to health and natural resource productivity, and to sustain economic growth. He said that the magnitude of the problem was too large for the government to address alone.
Speaking on the occasion Punjab Minister for Local Government, Community Development and Environment, Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa said that Government of Pakistan was addressing the global environmental agenda by declaring the 2009 as the National Year of Environment. UNDP Resident Coordinator Fikretakura said the world was facing energy and food crisis which calls for sustainable development.
World Bank representative Ernesto Sanchez-Triana, Knowledge Management Advisor Dr. Tahmina Akhtar and Ms. Mehrunnisa Bashir, Program Manager GEF Secretariat also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, giving the aims and objectives of the National Dialogue Additional Secretary Ministry of Environment Imtaiz Inayat Elahi said that primary objective of the dialogue was to enhance the capacity of the stakeholders for efficient, effective and sustainable implementation of the Global Environment Facility portfolio.
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