Monday July 15, 2024

Unravelling interplay of climate change and conflict

It was noted that climate deterioration is posing as a greatest threat and risk to world peace

By Jamila Achakzai
January 11, 2024
This image shows steam coming out into the environment from a power plant. — AFP/File
This image shows steam coming out into the environment from a power plant. — AFP/File

Islamabad:A roundtable jointly organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and National Defence Forum (NDF) was held on Wednesday on the theme of 'Pakistan’s Fragile Nexus: Unravelling the Interplay of Climate Change and Conflict.' The experts were Dr Adil Najam, Dr Ali Tauqeer, Ayesha Khan, Dr Shakeel Hayat and Iftikhar Firdous. NDF’s Sheheryar Khan, IPRI’s Director Research Dr Rasshid Wali Janjua, IPRI Law Chair Maham Naweed, IPRI Economic Chair Dr Aneel Salman also took part in the discussion.

The panel was conscious of adverse climate change across the globe, and studied it in relevance with changing political, geographical, environmental as well as socio-economic dimensions.

It was noted that climate deterioration is posing as a greatest threat and risk to world peace. Its consequences are felt in the form of eroding human security, and soaring instability in socio-economic realms.

The speakers said that climate conflict are interrelated, and they can fuel wider conflicts in the country and beyond by giving way to inequalities. Adil Najam remarked that the entire issue pertains to climate insecurity, and dwelt at length in explaining the sources and scales of this evolving decorum in our national lives.

He said that social disruption has an important part to play from climatic changes, such as load-shedding, pandemic, civil strife and wars. It was noted that human insecurity and institutional failure are interlinked, and one of the best example is of unplanned and uncivil constructions on the riverbeds, such as in the north of Pakistan. Erections and buildings on riverbeds in utter disregards to the rules of construction are, indeed, an institutional failure. The collapse of ‘Honeymoon’ hotel in Swat during the recent flash floods is a case in point. So are the cases of Greek boat sinking tragedy wherein people out of economic concerns opt for dangerous journeys in search of greener pastures.

The 1970 Bhola cyclone in the then East Pakistan was also studied to make a case as to how lack of proper facilities to cope with climatic adversities leads to wider political disasters.

Ali Tauqeer Sheikh hinted at the correlation between democracy and climate cycle, and noted that effective local government bodies can play a role in it. He said a simple example is of rain drains that are not cleaned in mega cities, leading to floods. It was said that proper and responsible political institutions can act as pre-emptive valve in protecting life and property by keeping environment as a subject core to heart.

“Pakistan has become weaker on every development index, and this must be addressed,” it was resolved. Likewise, climate change also leads to demographic conflicts, such as seen these days in Gilgit-Baltistan, Tharparkar as well as in the valleys and plains of Balochistan and Southern Punjab, respectively. The displacement of humans owing to adverse climate leads to conflict and political problems. It also leads to domestic violence as economic opportunities for livelihood are snatched, and people are mired in cut-throat competition to make their ends meet. Some of the issues to be addressed in this arena are water scarcity, extermination of cattle, water logging and sanity.

The roundtable observed that political parties have no brief for climate change in their manifesto, and thus they find themselves in crisis when confronted with policy decisions in adverse times. The international traumas of Gulf War and Chernobyl disaster were pointed out as factors that led to vast scale climatic somersaults having adverse impact for decades to come.

They said the vast difference of budgets for defence v/s climate change are issues of this generation, and need a viable balance. As far as Pakistan is concerned, inflow of water, agri-usages, population growth rate, and shrinking of resources are making life problematic, and they all have a link with climate. Ayesha Khan made a point by saying that presently we do not have trade, or other aspects, to indulge in talks with neighbours, and this is acting as a detriment.