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Thursday February 22, 2024

UNEP to improve climate resilience of flood-hit communities

By Our Correspondent
February 04, 2023

KARACHI: The federal government and the United Nations Environment Programme have agreed to enhance cooperation with each other for jointly taking up the task of improving the climate resilience of vulnerable flood-hit communities of Pakistan.

While meeting representatives of the UNEP at her residence in Karachi, Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Friday highlighted the challenges of resilient recovery after the devastating floods of 2022.

Welcoming the delegation on their return from flood-affected areas of Sindh, the Climate Change Minister said, “It is very important for us that Inger Andersen (UNEP Executive Director who met the minister) came here herself in response to my invitation and saw and felt the magnitude of the challenge.”

The minister added that while many had forgotten about the crisis, even the most optimistic analysis suggests that recovery is going to be slow, largely because resource barriers make it challenging to coordinate responses to such a huge catastrophe. Homelessness is a terrible thing to face, especially when the land of so many communities is no longer safe or habitable for resettlement, she said. Sherry Rehman emphasised that no one wants to become a climate migrant, so our response needs to be more than just strategic.

The federal minister and Executive Director of UNEP also spent time charting progress on ways to mobilise green financing that actually responds to community needs, not just top-down planning. The minister emphasised the need to gauge and ensure that green grants fulfilled capacity needs at the right time. She appreciated UNEP for supporting the Living Indus Initiative in their help with the technical aspects of the project.

Rehman also asserted the need for a full-time commitment by the relevant stakeholders for translating this initiative into a practical reality. “We cannot afford to have a plug-in and plug-out model for this. What we need is consistency in the performance of tasks and clear progress on deliverables,” she said. For this purpose, the minister advocated for a permanent office of UNEP representatives in her ministry. The UNEP Executive Director agreed to the idea.

The minister concluded, highlighting the urgency of climate action that requires an equally coordinated and prompt response. “Our aim is to avoid working in silos and instead working with speed, agility, and transparency, especially on nature-based solutions that bolster the Living Indus Initiative,” she stated.

The UNEP Executive Director commended the federal minister for her advocacy for ecosystem restoration in flood-affected areas and for her contributions to pushing for global climate action.

The Executive Director declared as their “top priority” to work with the Government of Pakistan -- especially on the Living Indus Initiative -- for a resilient recovery. She also committed to enhancing their relationship with Pakistan, which was appreciated by Sherry Rehman as reflective of Andersen’s initiative in taking up Pakistan’s environment and recovery challenges as both urgent and long-term global investments in adaptation actions for climate-vulnerable nations.