Environmental experts have stressed urgent action and the youth’s involvement to cope with the effects of climate change.
They were speaking at the Climate Summit Pakistan on Monday for a consultative session organised by the COMSATS Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD) and the United Nations in the run up to the global climate change summit hosted by the UN secretary-general on Tuesday in New York.
Ambassador Shahid Kamal, adviser to COMSATS CCRD, emphasised the importance of fostering dialogue on climate change among key stakeholders and stressed empowering the youth to take concrete actions. “The time has come to act on the risks posed by climate change, recognise our shared humanity and build a sustainable future,” he said.
Timo Pakkala, the resident humanitarian coordinator of the UN in Pakistan, said the main objective of the summit is to ensure that all the concerns about climate change in Pakistan are addressed both nationally and internationally.
Pakkala was delighted to see students gathering at the event and said 70 per cent of the total population of Pakistan is under the age of 29. “We are now choosing the future we want and the voice of the youth needs to be taken into consideration as they will carry the consequences of our decisions.”
Moderated by TV anchors Faisal Rehman and Shabnam Riaz, the summit focused on six thematic areas including agriculture, cities, energy, funding and resilience, pollutants and water.
Some 20 experts from the academia, international environment organisations, UN member states, government departments, corporate sector and civil society discussed Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change and some of its extreme manifestations, like floods and droughts.
They urged policymakers and political leaders to take concrete action to mitigate the effects of climate change and said investments in water conservation, renewable energy, agriculture, water storage and reforestation are vital to sustainable development.
A group of students, aged 8-13 from Saya School, went on stage to share their proposals for an environment-friendly way of living. Zoha, a 12-year-old student, said, “Increasing the use of bicycles and planting trees outside our homes are small steps that can lead to a healthier lifestyle”.
The young students also participated in an art exhibition titled “Pakistani Youth Voices for Climate Change Action” and planted olive trees at COMSATS’ park.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2014.