Possible solution: Minister urges tapping CSR potential to address depleting forest cover

Banking, telecom, auto reps pledge funding for Green Pakistan Project

Shahzad Anwar March 26, 2016
Banking, telecom, auto reps pledge funding for Green Pakistan Project. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Climate Change Minister Zahid Hamid has called for tapping corporate social responsibility (CSR) potential to fix country’s depleting forest cover.

“The country’s corporate sector should divert a significant chunk of CSR funds to reinvigorate the country’s ailing forestry sector to fight socioeconomic impacts of global warming-induced climate change,” he said on Friday while chairing a meeting on “Promoting Afforestation Campaign through CSR in Pakistan”.

Representatives of the corporate sector including automobile, telecommunication, petroleum, banking, industry and top key provincial forest department officials attended the meeting.

While talking about the prime minister’s Green Pakistan Project (GPP), the minister said that the prime minister was serious about boosting country’s tree cover by all possible means.

“The prime minister has directed the climate change ministry to proactively engage all provincial forest departments, corporate sector, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to actualise the GPP,” he said.

A five-year target of planting 100 million trees across the country has been set as a part of country’s efforts to cope with devastating impacts of climate change, particularly floods, he said.

The minister said that the project clearly reflects the prime minister’s understanding of unprecedented significance of forests in fighting different environmental issues including pollution.

“No country can achieve climate resilience as long as the forestry sector is not given top priority as part of climate forward action,” Hamid said urging the corporate sector representatives to pool resources to extend their financial support to the initiative.

He also highlighted that though Pakistan was among the lower emitters of carbon, ranking 135th out of 196 countries, but the country was among the top 10 countries most affected by climate change-induced disasters.

He also said that the ministry was mobilising its potential with support from federal and provincial governmental departments and the private sector to boost country’s climate resilience particularly in agriculture, water, energy, public infrastructure, health and education sectors.

“Framed in 2012, the national climate change policy is being implemented in support with different organisations and provinces are pro-actively working on policy recommendations for mitigating devastating effects of climate change,” he told the participants.

One of the participants from a banking sector suggested that those sectors, which were contributing more pollution, should be asked to pay more under the CSR to fight the environmental degradation.

Punjab Forests Additional Secretary Shahid Rasheed Awan suggested forming sector-wise consortiums of telecommunication, automobile, banking, industry with a focal person for better coordination and moblisation and utilisation of CSR funds to achieve targets.

Another bank representative advocated for a specific place for banking sector for plantation of trees.  Another bank representative said that they were already providing finance for nurseries. “A conifer tree takes more than 100 years to mature. We need to take concrete action against deforestation,” he said.

Climate Change Ministry Media and Communication Deputy Director Mohammad Saleem Shaikh told The Express Tribune that representatives of corporate and banking sector and provincial forest department officials have assured the ministry of their full support to make the project a success.

“They also vowed to allocate as much funds as possible for achieving the target of 100 million tree plantation for conservation of forest and environment through CSR” he said.

They also suggested that private housing society developers be engaged to achieve the results, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2016.


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