LONDON: Pakistani environmentalist and Oxford based Academic Dr. Abrar Chaudhury has been awarded the prestigious British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2018.
The British Academy (BA) was set up by the Royal Charter from King Edward VII in 1902 as UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences. The BA Fellowships are awarded to a select cohort of outstanding academics all of whom are at cutting edge of research in social sciences through a rigorous and competitive process. Abrar is the only Pakistani to receive this award.
Abrar’s fellowship will focus on implementation of climate change policies and programmes in Pakistan. Abrar emphasised: “For the last 25 years we have been gathering credible scientific and social evidence on the impacts of climate change. We now clearly know that climate change is biggest threat to humanity and our survival. It is time for action”.
The recent UN climate report on 1.5-degree warming has sent out a clear and stark message that the world is running out of time. The past decade has seen an astonishing run of record-breaking storms, floods, forest fires, droughts, heat waves with just 1.0-degree of global warming.
Pakistan disproportionately bears the brunt of the global warning because of its geographic and economic vulnerabilities. Agriculture, which is the mainstay of the Pakistan economy, contributing 20% to the GDP, employing 40% of the labour force and is responsible for 75% of its exports, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. A rise in the temperature will negatively impact agriculture productivity and increase variability of the monsoon systems. This vicious and unpredictable cycle of climatic extremes can reverse years of development progress and push millions in poverty, unless addressed immediately.
He told this correspondent that Pakistan is one of most climate vulnerable countries in the world. So, what is the way forward for Pakistan? Abrar stated that he plans to use the fellowship, and the Oxford network to bring in world class ideas, resources and technologies to address the growing climate threats in Pakistan.
Last year he led efforts to develop the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) profile for Pakistan supported by the World Bank. He followed this with a detailed CSA profile for Punjab which will be launched early next year. The Punjab profile offers practical solutions for farmers to improve productivity while countering the threats of climate change. “Farmers are already deploying coping strategies, we need to promote the ones that are climate-smart with supporting policy and funding mechanism to scale these strategies across the country” Abrar added.
Building on his success from last year of receiving the “Best Doctoral Dissertation Award 2017’, Abrar plans work closely with the Green Climate Fund to secure funding for climate projects in Pakistan.
He explained that “Pakistan needs a pipeline of sustainable and scalable climate focused projects backed up credible scientific research. I hope to play an instrumental role in bridging the knowledge and institutional gaps needed to create a resilient society”.
Abrar comes from a family of Chartered Accountants. He grew up and studied in Lahore, training as a Chartered Accountant. He went on to lead one of the oldest Pakistani accountancy firms, set up by his grandfather who was the first member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. Abrar’s passion for the environment drove him to get a doctorate in Environmental Change and Management, an MBA, and an MSc in Environmental Management from the University of Oxford.
On receiving the Fellowship, Abrar commented: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. These three years are precious; they offer me the intellectual space to not only follow my passion for climate change, but to be part of a wonderful cohort of the next generation of academics. I am appreciative of the excellent support that Saïd Business School has offered and look forward to forging even stronger ties."
In a statement from the British Academy, Chief Executive, Alun Evans, remarked: “We are delighted to welcome this new cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows, all of whom are at the cutting edge of research in the humanities and social sciences. I would like to wish all of our new Postdoctoral Fellows the best of luck with their research. We look forward to seeing the results.”
Abrar divides his time between Pakistan and Oxford.
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