The ever-increasing roles of the private sector and businesses in protecting coastal areas and maintaining their ecological integrity were the main topics of discussion at a learning event of the ninth regional meeting of the Mangroves for the Future initiative titled “Resilience, Climate Change and the Private Sector in Sustainable Coastal Management”.
Leading coastal experts as well as representatives of the private sector and multinational companies gathered in the city on Tuesday to discuss these issues.
Speaking about the economic impact of climate change on Pakistan, Malik Amin Aslam, regional councilor of IUCN, said that the “costs of dealing with the phenomenon were rising, and according to estimates, could range between $6 billion and $14 billion per year. Natural disasters caused by the climate cost Pakistan’s economy $10 billion in 2010 and $7 billion in 2011, pushing the country into the list of those nations severely affected by climate change”.
If we were to effectively address these issues, all stakeholders must be engaged and since the private sector played a key role in coastal areas, sustainable development was in its best interest, the experts highlighted.
“Recent partnerships have demonstrated an increasingly sophisticated business agenda on environmental sustainability and are focusing on responsible use of resources. There is also a growing interest in biodiversity,” said Javed Jabbar, former vice-president of the IUCN.
If managed well, mangroves could play an important role in protecting billions of coastal people from disasters. This fact was one of the key components of the MFF initiative that was introduced as a response to the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Director Leena Wokeck CSR Asia said it was “important to emphasise that CSR and strategic investment in coastal ecosystems and communities is not the same thing as philanthropy, corporate charity, or being a caring company that gives back to society. CSR is not about the projects companies undertake with their profits. It is about how the profits are made in the first place and the way the companies manage the environmental, social and economic impacts of every aspect of their operations, value chains, products and services.”
Gulzar Feroz, Chairman Standing Committee on Environment of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaking about waste disposal in coastal areas, said “effluent being dumped on the coasts is ours, “In Karachi, the public and private sector, with the help of the Dutch government, established an affluent treatment plant in 2007. This plant is treating affluent from 120 tanneries in the Korangi Industrial Industry, Sector 7A. It is a rare example of a successful partnership. There is an urgent need for more such examples”
The half-day event offered businesses an opportunity to gain knowledge on key issues, innovative and effective approaches to managing associated risks and building brand value through partnership opportunities that contribute to sustainable development in coastal areas.
The private sector happened to be a major stakeholder in coastal resource extraction and use in the form of food, oil and gas reserves, naval trade, and carbon storage. It was now becoming increasingly apparent that as major stakeholders, the business and private sectors’ commitment and stewardship to safeguarding the coasts was imperative. It was critical in the wake of recent climatic catastrophes the world witnessed, where the scale of devastation was so massive that governments found it challenging to mitigate the impacts.
Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a unique partner-led initiative to promote investment in coastal ecosystem conservation. In December 2006, former US President Bill Clinton planted the first mangrove tree to launch the MFF initiative at a fishing village on the Phuket Island of Thailand.