ISLAMABAD: Climate change is a real existential threat to societies, economies and ecosystem at all levels, experts said at a seminar on Tuesday.
The dire consequences of climatic changes have already been felt in the form of heatwaves, devastating floods, water scarcity and droughts they said.
These happening s affect people at local level. Therefore, an effective, efficient and empowered local government system is critical to tackle the challenges of climate change, this was the crux of experts’ discussion during the seminar titled ‘The Role of Local Governments in Tackling Climate Change Challenges’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) to mark World Environment Day on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion, Romina Khursheed Alam, former parliamentary secretary for climate change said: “Climate change is the area where we all should play our role to protect our environment.”
She said small steps and measures at local level can bring bigger change at national level. “We should capitalise on local indigenous solutions which could prove instrumental in tackling climate change,” she added.
SDPI Senior Adviser Chemicals and Sustainable Industrial Development Dr Mahmood A Khwaja said following the philosophy of think globally and act locally, strengthening local government coupled with effective stakeholder participation is fundamental to deal with environmental challenges such as beating the plastic pollution, he added.
Climate Change Ministry DG Environment Irfan Tariq said after 18th Constitutional Amendment, the local government should be empowered enough to take small steps, which can be managed and subsequently scaled up, to cope with challenges of environment.
Islamabad Deputy Mayor Zeeshan Naqvi said that despite facing funding constraints Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation initiated several environmental protection awareness raising campaigns and tree plantation drives.
To celebrate World Environment Day (WED), Oxfam in Pakistan joined hands with Canteen Stores Department (CSD) in Rawalpindi and Bhara Kahu and promoted the use of cloth bags in place of plastic bags. The WED theme for this year Beat Plastic Pollution encourages public activism. Student volunteers distributed over 300 cloth bags to shoppers and shared tips on reducing plastic pollution.
Oxfam’s Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash appreciated the efforts of the volunteers and said, “World Environment Day provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can help to combat plastic bag pollution. One of the easiest ways to keep plastic bags out of the landfill is to refuse single-use plastic. Take cloth bags with you when you go shopping.”
CSD’s Marketing Manager Ahmer Bilal Raja said that to be eco-friendly all CSD stores across Pakistan use biodegradable plastic bags. “We were keen to support the campaign and curb the use of single-use plastics which pose a serious threat to our ecosystem,” he said.
Oxfam organised the awareness activities in collaboration with Indus Consortium. Oxfam’s management including Programme Director Adeel Qaiser, Security Advisor Alamgeer Khan and Programme Quality and Funding Director Uzma Aftab pledged their support and launched the bag distributions at the CSD outlets.
Indus Consortium’s National Coordinator Hussain Jarwar said the government needs to impose heavy penalties on the manufacturing of plastic bags, their distribution and supplies with long-term policies.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2018.