Amid extreme weather events, Sherry calls for resilient housing

December 09, 2022

Islamabad : Amid the rising incidence of extreme weather events like downpours and flooding in the country, climate change minister Sherry Rehman on Thursday advocated resilient housing to reduce...

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Islamabad : Amid the rising incidence of extreme weather events like downpours and flooding in the country, climate change minister Sherry Rehman on Thursday advocated resilient housing to reduce climate vulnerability.

“The recent flash floods brought massive devastation to Pakistan destroying millions of houses and causing a loss of over Rs1.2 trillion, so it’s very important for the government to promote environment-friendly greenhouses in the country to bring climate change risks down,” the minister told the inaugural session of the three-day International Housing Expo-2022 at the Convention Centre here. The event was held by the housing and works ministry and the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Jang Media Group.

All major international and national developers, builders, and real estate enterprises participated in it with the organisers claiming that it will help attract domestic and foreign investment and revive the local economic development in the urban centres of the country.

They insisted that the expo included urban regeneration schemes, the gentrification of federal government land, management of rapid urbanisation, providing a common platform to resolve intricate urban and national issues, development of national urban infrastructure to support urban and regional development, and promotion of affordable green energy housing for all. The climate change minister said that the country had witnessed growing urbanisation as in the future, 60 per cent of the population would be living in urban areas and it was very important that sustainable urbanisation with better municipal services in the cities should be promoted to reduce pressure on urban communities.

Senate deputy chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi, who was also in attendance, said the construction industry stimulated the economy, so both the government and the State Bank of Pakistan should make policies in consultation with the private sector to facilitate the better growth of the key sector. Housing secretary Iftikhar Ali Shalwani said it was the responsibility of the government to provide affordable housing to the people, but it needed the help of the private sector to achieve that goal. He added that the event held on the basis of the public-private partnership was the right step in that direction.

The secretary said the objective of the expo was to revitalise the urban economy and create more opportunities and technological innovation to take the country’s housing and construction industry to the next level. “We have seen countries, which have boosted their economy by taking initiatives of stimulating inward investments through real estate projects, enterprising builders and developers,” he said. Mr. Shalwani said Pakistan was at high risk from climate change and natural disasters and tha events such as earthquakes and flooding had disturbed the urban areas of the country for years and had regularly swept away the foundations on which the lives of hundreds of thousands of families were built.

He said natural disasters interfered with the economy and destroyed infrastructure resulting in a disruption of livelihoods and normal services, especially houses and buildings. “Floods have been disruptive, leading to widespread collapse of infrastructure of urban areas. Recently, Pakistan was hit by one of the worst flood disasters in its history. One-third of the country is underwater. The lack of urban planning and climate change is the main causes of that heavy damage,” he said. The secretary said the development of rural and urban areas and unplanned projects should be proper strategic planning.

“In the recent floods, many cities and infrastructure have been washed away. It is about time that we must redesign and plan these cities afresh through proper planning and well-designed infrastructure. Without reforms and urban planning, high and sustainable growth is not achievable,” he said. Mr. Shalwani said discussions during the event would produce good proposals for green and resilient housing.

ICCI President Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari urged the Capital Development Authority to allocate land to the chamber to build housing units, a university, and a hospital for traders. He also called for the grant of permanent representation in the CDA Board for the effective resolution of the issues of the business community. Bakhtawari said the government should fully cooperate with the ICCI for establishing a new industrial zone in the region. He called for the immediate revival of the Islamabad Citizen Club and the grant of representation to the ICCI in its administration.

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