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NEWS: Planning Commission sets priority actions for Pakistan’s climate compatible development

 “Development has to be resilient, but more importantly it has to be responsible. These priority actions will assist us in taking ownership of responsible development and give us a guideline to implement them with our internal resources.”

Endorsing the report, Hasan Nawaz Tarar, Secretary Planning Commission

Climate change has become an unavoidable reality for Pakistan, and the impacts on lives and livelihoods are already being felt. Over the past 20 years, 141 extreme events have killed on average over 500 people a year, and led to annual economic losses of more than US$ 2 billion. The latest IPCC reports tell us that we should expect these extreme events, plus long term trends of increased temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns to worsen in the future.

In this context, CDKN supported the Climate Change Division in preparing and launching (in partnership with the Planning Commission) the 10 key priority actions for combatting the impacts of climate change.  While launching the priority actions, Hassan Nawaz Tarar, Secretary of the Planning Commission, said that dealing with climate change is no longer a choice for the country — it is an imperative, which Pakistan has to cope with and adapt to in the near future.

Read a situation analysis for Pakistan to get the full picture of climate compatible development in the country.

Policy context for the announcement of the priority actions
Following the recurrent monsoon flooding pattern in Pakistan (which in 2010 affected one fifth of the country and an estimated 21 million people), the Cabinet officially approved the National Climate Change Policy in February 2013. This came with the suggestion to prioritise the actions in order to address the priority issues on ground.

For this purpose, CDKN extended support to the Climate Change Division to further chalk out the challenges and potential areas for the way forward in close collaboration with various stakeholders including key line ministries, experts, civil society and donors.  This led to the development of a framework that has helped the Division prioritise 10 key actions which may be undertaken in order to operationalise the Climate Change Policy.

The 10 action points – a catalogue of viable projects with budget estimates between USD 1.75 million – USD 4.35 million for implementation – take into consideration some ‘common elements’ that need to be undertaken in order to ensure an enabling environment to address the adaptation and mitigation challenges. These include interventions such as building capacity in federal and provincial governments, institutional assessments, communication and awareness raising, and identifying research needs and strengthening research capacity.  These will then support larger adaptation and mitigation plans such as carrying out vulnerability assessments (water sector on priority basis), some demonstration projects for adaptation and mitigation, carrying out low carbon scenario assessments, sectoral baselines and greenhouse gas inventories. However, there is no particular sequencing that needs to be adhered to: the government with support from other stakeholders can prioritise any of the 10 project ideas as per the requirements.

Read the full report for the details of the action points.

Next steps for adopting the priority actions
The report has provided the Government of Pakistan a unique and unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate Pakistan’s seriousness and readiness to deliver a climate compatible development agenda. Going forward, CDKN is helping the Climate Change Division plan how best to utilise such a report. Some of the suggestions include mainstreaming priorities within Planning Commission development plans and budgets; and taking a step further, by embedding the priorities within provincial plans and budgets. Efforts can be made to streamline requests to donors through a coordination function.

At the international level, the Climate Change Division can also think about engaging with global processes for showcasing and investing in technical proposals that can be developed from these priority actions in order to access international climate finance.

There is distance to cover, however. In a country like Pakistan that has multiple ‘real life’ challenges to handle, the Climate Change Division has to make the wider set of stakeholders realise climate change is not a ‘problem of the west’ and needs to be addressed locally along with all the other issues such as health, education, conflict and governance.

Read local news reports on the Planning Commission’s approval of the priority actions, from The News and the Express Tribune

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