Speakers at a conference in Gilgit highlighted the role of education in sustainable development, urging people not to overstep their limits for the sake of development.
“The development shouldn’t be at the cost of environment and its natural resources,” said Ishtiaq Yaad, a development expert, while addressing the conference “Role of Education in Sustainable Development” here on Saturday.
The conference was organised by Association For Academic Quality (AFAQ), a non-governmental organisation. A number of educationists, environmentalists and researchers participated in the conference.
Mujahid Ali Shah, a researcher and teacher, said that rampant development in the world is responsible for the loss of precious species of biodiversity, with Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) being one of the only few regions that still harbour certain endangered species.
“But if we [do not do something about it], we will be fast losing all these precious natural resources,” he warned.
Babar Khan, head of World Wildlife Fund Gilgit, said that about 4.5 per cent of G-B is covered in natural, while about 5 per cent is covered in artificial forests.
“We shouldn’t overstep our limits and let our environment deteriorate, otherwise we will be cheating future generations of their rights,” Khan said. He added that cost of rehabilitation is “100 per cent more” than the cost of protection.
He said that untamed development in the world had ruined the fragile ecosystems of our world and that it is our responsibility put a stop to this malpractice. He blamed poverty and commercial interests behind large-scale deforestation and that laws should be amended to be made more effective.
Dr Salma Durrani, chairperson environmental sciences at Karakoram International University (KIU), who was also chairing the session said that a change in the attitudes was a must to protect the environment. Durrani emphasised that education alone can achieve the desired results.
Earlier, Basharat Hussain, coordinator AFAQ in Gilgit-Baltistan threw light on the performance of his NGO, saying that it was focusing on quality education besides providing training to teachers and students.
Ejaz Khan, general manager National Commission For Human Development, said that the global concepts need to be translated in local perspective so that the goal of sustainable development could be achieved.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2011.