KARACHI: “The world [environment] I have seen, my children have not seen. Over the years, I saw birds disappearing and trees being cut,” said Sindh Assembly’s lawmaker Mehtab Akbar Rashdi
Speaking at the Climate Awards 2015, former Sindh Environment Protection Agency (EPA) director-general, Rashdi, highlighted how the environmental issues are not given priority by either the government or media.
“But it [environmental degradation] is a reality. It is affecting our future and even the future of our children. We have entered into a danger zone,” she said.
The Climate Awards 2015 ceremony was organised by the Friends of Indus Forum (FIF) in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan’s (WWF-Pakistan) Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP) at Marriot Hotel on Wednesday.
Environment is a multidimensional phenomenon, so all its aspects need to be equally focused on, including water, forest, flora and fauna, wildlife and other areas, said senior journalist Nasir Ajiz while speaking at the event.
Sharing her experience of establishing EPA’s building in Korangi and disseminating environment-related information among the masses, Rashdi said that former Sindh chief minister Jam Sadique provided land for the EPA and provided a budget for it, at a time when the environment sector was given the least priority by the government officials.
Sindh has great potential for ecotourism which needs to be promoted, said former Sindh culture and tourism department secretary, Shams Jafrani. “Due to mismanagement and bad governance, Sindh has lost rich forests and wetlands.”
The forest land is commonly used for growing agricultural produce, he claimed. If this trend is not regulated, the province will lose its remaining forests, he pointed out.
Commercialisation has played a pivotal role in the degradation of the environment, said writer and researcher Noor Ahmed Janjhi. The incessant focus on profits has disturbed the balance of our ecosystem, he added.
“These [environment] issues need to be highlighted more often,” stressed Manzoor Solangi, a journalist. He said that least attention is given to issues related to the environment. “Our environment is severely affected by capitalistic activities.”
Role of media
Environment and climate change can be made a mainstream issue through media, said FIF general secretary Nasir Ali Panhwar. There are some individual journalists who are highlighting environmental issues due to their personal interest in the topic, he claimed. Such journalists should be encouraged, he added.
Journalists can play a major role in sensitising the policy-makers and communities, said Jafrani.
Environmental journalists from Karachi, Tharparkar, Hyderabad and other cities were given awards for their contribution in highlighting environment issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2015.