It is the time for the development community of Pakistan to go for action-oriented vision that can frame way for sustainable development in the country instead of just its policy reinforcement mantra.
Renowned environmentalist, development expert and former vice chancellor of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Dr Adil Najam was speaking at a lecture on “How will Pakistan move to sustainable development: Policy? Activism? Action?”,at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.
Najam, with vast experience in academic research and in the development sector pointed at a total lack of approach of sustainable practices in the country which faces an energy crisis despite possessing immense natural resources.
Pakistan has missed a great opportunity to transform its society towards sustainable practices in the wake of crises such as load-shedding, he said.
“This was a time for social innovation and a transformation towards sustainability where emphasis should have been on positive consumption behaviours, conservation, green building practices and preventing depletion of natural resources. But unfortunately, Pakistan’s policy discourse responded by merely focusing on increasing the supply side,” he added.
Najam criticised the approach of the Pakistani development sector gurus, who, according to Najam, “were bent upon just initiating and introducing mere paper policies while the effort done to transform or materialise it was just might not their preference.”
“We tried advising people on ‘what to do’ but now it is time we exhibit ‘how it is done’,” he added while highlighting the need for action oriented approach for reintroducing sustainable development discourse in Pakistan.
He urged the development community to come up with feasible social innovations and stories which could be replicated, and a change process can start across the society.
Citing the success of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LNG) as transport fuel, he argued that the Pakistani society has the capacity to absorb innovation and sustainability practices and policy makers must tap this dimension.
He shared examples of successful green innovations experimented in LUMS and argued that every centre of excellence must demonstrate such cutting edge and novel practices which can then further lead to a systematic change in society. He explained that last year, LUMS was able to save Rs15 million by conserving 91, 521 kilowatt hours of electricity through various measures including installing renewable energy systems at the campus. He also shared other radical measures such as the community bike system and implementation of environmental standards, implying that if LUMS can implement sustainability practices, it can be implemented in other places at Pakistan as well.
During question answer session, the participants discussed examples of transformation to alternate energies and were informed that India has the world’s fastest growth in wind energy whereas South Korea is leading the world with the highest growth in solar energy.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.
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