ISLAMABAD-During a one-day conference on Monday, experts emphasized that if glaciers continue to melt at an accelerated rate in northern Pakistan, the mighty Indus River could dry up and become a seasonal river, endangering the lives of over 240 million people.
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI-Pakistan), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), organised a comprehensive workshop and panel discussion on “Climate Change: Implications for the Water Sector.” Participants included experts, academia, researchers, students, and the media.
During the panel discussion, experts highlighted that water availability is not the primary issue for the country; rather, the governance and conservation of water resources are of paramount significance. Shifting weather patterns and increasing rainfall offer an opportunity to embrace rainwater harvesting and preservation as alternatives to mitigate urban flooding and water scarcity while recharging groundwater aquifers.
Commencing the workshop, Dr. Azeem Ali Shah, Chief of the Party of the Water Management for Enhanced Productivity initiative (WMfEP) at IWMI Pakistan, highlighted the achievements and challenges associated with water governance and productivity initiatives in the region.
Muhammad Nawaz, Development Specialist at USAID-Pakistan, emphasized the importance of evidence-based policy frameworks and legislation to address water and climate change issues effectively.
The growing population in Pakistan, which is the fifth-largest country by population, exacerbates the impact of global warming in the region, said Dr. Novaira Junaid, a researcher at IWMI. This increasing population puts immense pressure on the environment and livelihoods, leading to economic challenges that necessitate both short-term and long-term efforts to mitigate climate change impacts.
Dr. Shahid Iqbal, a water management expert, discussed the country’s population growth rate and the need to expand agriculture and water resources. He underscored the importance of seizing opportunities like carbon credits to enhance climate resilience and warned that the Indus River could lose its might if glaciers continue to melt.