Tuesday September 26, 2023

To tackle climate challenges...: Pakistan, US to cooperate on Green Climate Fund

March 20, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States have spoken of mutual cooperation for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to deal with the climate challenges, shaped by the worst impacts of global warming and environmental degradation.

US Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Ms Monica P. Medina said here that the governments of Pakistan and the US have great room for working together on the GCF to solve climate challenges.

In a discussion after the bilateral working group talks on climate and environment, she informed the media about the outcome of the ministerial dialogue on important issues, faced by Pakistan due to climate change.

She reminded that “One thing that we really need to work on together is with respect to the Green Climate Fund, which is one of the largest fund donors of the projects to deal with climate change in the world.

“Both Pakistan and US governments are going to co-chair the board of directors at the key moment when the countries are looking to get more funding from the Fund into the communities that are being hit hardest by climate change.”

Ms Monica underlined that it was a tremendous opportunity for Pakistan and the US in particular to work together to help solve climate challenges now even as the entire Conference of the Parties (COP) process continued to deal with the loss and damage fund.

The US assistant secretary maintained that Pakistan is a very important partner and friend of the United States and said, “We have a very meaningful and a deep relationship with lots of people-to-people ties, strong bilateral exchanges and were working together on a huge range of global climate and environmental topics and challenges as these challenges we know hit close to home.”

She said the world countries had faced horrible climate impacts, but the devastating floods in Pakistan last year caught everyone’s attention. “We worked closely with the Pakistani government in the wake of the flooding. Since these terrible events, the US announced more than $200 million in flood relief, food security, disaster preparedness and other recovery efforts.

“We are very pleased to be able to do that as well as lending a lot of expertise too in trying to figure out ways to prevent and adapt to these sorts of climate stressors.”

Ms Monica said the US administration had realised that both the countries would have to move forward to mitigate climate crisis by working together. Commenting on the working group proceedings, she said, “We not only had a climate dialogue but an environmental dialogue which allowed us covering a full range of topics including water resources, agriculture, nature and biodiversity, ocean conservation, and several others.

“I was very pleased to leave this working group together with the Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman here in Pakistan and our two governments had a long discussion about how we are going to strengthen our cooperation on climate and environmental issues.”

The US official said climate issues were interlinked and fundamentally related to one another, adding, “We can’t address climate crisis without talking about biodiversity and vice versa.”

She commended the efforts of US Ambassador Donald Blome for devising a robust process for engagement of the working group. “We had a very wonderful mechanism for working on these issues helped by Ambassador Blome putting in place called Green Alliance Framework for work on climate, agriculture, water management and clean energy.”

The US official met the minister for water resources. She also visited the biodiversity rich Margalla Hills National Park and saw the work of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB). She termed the IWMB a model for other wildlife services. She appreciated the bear rehabilitation centre and the leopard preserve zone, managed well by the IWMB.

She also appreciated the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) young scientists and commended the students for asking good questions. She also met the young women and called her interaction important with women at NUST, who were very active to be part of the learning process. She also met the programme alumni at the embassy that had a huge one. “They are very active in civil society, business and academia,” she acknowledged the US Embassy program alumni.

She also met representatives of the business community and civil society and was amazed to meet them. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy work on looking the issue of climate change at the local level, she said.

Ms. Medina noted that plastic pollution issue was another important area where the US government was engaged with its Pakistani counterpart. “Pakistan had one marine protected area (MAP) and we are also working in this area to enhance Pakistan’s capacity to further boost its MAPs.” She said that further areas of cooperation included illegal fishing, air quality, mangroves, impact of floods and recovery issues and climate smart agriculture to address impact of environmental degradation, and management of 2023 monsoon floods. The working group delegation, she said, had a detailed presentation and commended that both the governments had engaged in a really pivotal moment at the global level. “The world came closer on the times of very challenges.”

Discussing the plastic pollution issue, she said there was a great discussion on plastic and plastic pollution at the working group level. “We are drowning in plastic waste. Some of the municipal and provincial governments of Pakistan are trying to meet this challenge. It’s an important part of the climate challenge. We are already looking forward for COP-28 to address numerous global challenges and how to utilise that global forum to advance our agenda on global level.”