Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday announced that parliament has approved the country’s biggest climate initiative—“Living Indus”—aimed at protecting the cradle of civilisations under serious threat due to environmental degradation and anthropogenic activities.

From the deserts of Sindh to the mountains of Tibet, the Indus River in history held reverence. The subcontinent of India finds its name from the river; and in the past, the river was a source of worship by peasants and honoured by poets. However, in 2022, the glory of the river is long gone and it, along with the ancient cultures and relics the path of the river gave form to, has become almost an endangered specimen. Beginning with Britain’s profit-driven colonisation of the lower Indus valley, and then years of bad governance by respective Pakistani governments, big dams, climate change and inefficient policy planning have shackled the river, transforming the lives of human and non-human species on its banks and in its waters.

Furthermore, beyond the importance of preserving historic relics aging in tens of thousands of years, this project is ever more imperative considering that Pakistan’s economy to this day also revolves around River Indus. River Indus is the lifeline of the country, supporting 80 percent of Pakistan’s agriculture and three-fourths of its economy. The events of this year, with the disastrous floods, are a testament to the havoc that is caused when policies are not developed in consideration of climate change.

It must be noted however that this project is costly—with an estimated cost of around $11-17 billion. As the necessity for the project has arisen partly because of climate change, a phenomenon caused mostly by external actors, it is important that some of the funding may also be secured externally as well. Furthermore, while the government should be commended for managing to develop a concrete roadmap for the Indus, there are many other climate threats that require similar plans to be developed.