The Green Growth Initiative of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government is meant to steer the province towards its envisioned economic sustainability. Some of KP’s major initiatives in this regard, like the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project’, have received widespread acclaim.
KP’s green growth vision was developed to counteract the vulnerability of the province’s economy. The geographical location of the province makes it vulnerable to the increasingly evident impacts of climate change, including increase in extreme temperatures, seasonal variations, erratic rainfall patterns and change in cropping patterns. These effects result in stress in key sectors, causing northward migration of species, water shortages, decline in crop productivity and climate-induced disasters.
The findings of the multi-hazard vulnerability assessment conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) reflect that eight out of 25 districts in KP are highly vulnerable, while ten are moderately vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods, avalanches, landslides and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
Recognising climate change as a major threat to the provincial economy, the KP government developed the first provincial climate change policy of Pakistan. Thus, it took a critical step to mobilise local stakeholders on making the economy climate compatible by introducing this policy. Other provinces, including Punjab, Sindh and Azad Jammu and Kashmir followed suit, and are now in the process of developing their own provincial policies to address climate change.
KP’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) procured LEAD Pakistan’s assistance on developing a policy to address and minimise the risks associated with climate change, and planning the implementation of the 13 international agreements on environment relevant for KP that Pakistan has signed and/or ratified. The latter is a unique and pioneering exercise, which has not been undertaken in any other province or country yet.
Developing the climate change policy involved a combination of desktop research, literature and policy review, and surveys with ten line departments in the provincial capital Peshawar. An advisory committee on climate change was formed, comprising 17 members, including representatives from line departments, NGOs and academia. The committee thoroughly reviewed the policy and action plans, during an extensive consultative and review process spanning 14 months.
LEAD Pakistan helped develop a climate change policy for KP in consonance with the structure of the National Climate Change Policy. However, the policy was tailored to the provincial context and highlights the observed and expected climate impacts in the province. It recommends policy measures that the government of KP should follow to ‘climate-proof’ vulnerable sectors.
The policy suggests adaption and mitigation measures, including use of renewable energy sources for electricity production, promotion of sustainable modes of road transport, strengthening early warning systems for extreme weather events, developing waste management systems for municipal and hazardous wastes, and encouraging cleaner production and consumption in industries and households.
Action plans were developed for the implementation of the multilateral environment agreements signed between the government of Pakistan and international bodies.
The KP policy has adopted a targeted, sectoral approach to narrow the focus and produce a relevant and motivating case for action. The policy focuses on 13 sectors: agriculture and livestock, forestry, water resources, biodiversity, vulnerable ecosystems, energy, industry, transport, waste, urban planning, disaster preparedness, health and socioeconomic sector on poverty and gender. The policy highlights sector-specific risks of climate change, and requisite measures to minimise these risks and curtail the contribution of the sector to climate change.
Recognising the untapped potential for making development ‘climate compatible’ in KP, the policy also presents opportunities that come with addressing climate change, such as a developing market and new goods and services, increasing efficiency, protecting supply chains for natural resources and gaining reputational benefits.
But making the case for action needs more than a policy document. Major milestones are yet to be achieved in climate change response and climate compatible development, despite Pakistan having a comprehensive National Climate Change Policy. This national policy provides a framework to cope with climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures. Relevant ministries and departments, and provincial and local governments are yet to translate the framework into strategies and plans.
The lack of coordination between the Ministry of Climate Change and other line ministries and departments at the provincial levels, especially after devolution of power after 18th Amendment, lack of political will, inadequate funds, and lack of technical capacities and understanding of provincial governments on climate change have been the key contributing factors in ineffective policy implementation.
Developing a policy is only the first step towards the larger goal of climate-compatible development. Intergovernmental coordination needs to be emphasized. Experts at LEAD Pakistan recommended that the KP government should take the lead in initiating a local level process of bringing together stakeholders from the government, the private sector and the civil society. The exercise can be designed to understand how best to address climate impacts for each vulnerable sector and build these discussions into sectoral action plans.
As KP makes the transition towards climate-compatible development, it can build on its reputation as an innovator on environment and climate change issues in Pakistan and deepen its engagement on green growth for long-term sustainability.
The writer is focal person, Climate Finance Readiness at LEAD Pakistan.