Tuesday May 21, 2024

Pakistan leads South Asia in WEF's national plastic action partnership

By Our Correspondent
April 30, 2024
PM coordinator on climate change & Environmental coordination Romina Khurshid Alam in a group photo during a launching ceremony of WEF National plastic action partnership at COMSATS on April 29, 2024. — APP
PM coordinator on climate change & Environmental coordination Romina Khurshid Alam in a group photo during a launching ceremony of WEF National plastic action partnership at COMSATS on April 29, 2024. — APP

Islamabad:Pakistan has taken a significant step forward in its commitment to combat plastic pollution by becoming the first South Asian country to launch the World Economic Forum's (WEF) National Plastic Action Partnership initiative.

Romina Khurshid Alam, the PM's Coordinator on Climate Change & Environmental Coordination, made the announcement during an Earth Day event held at the secretariat of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (Comsats), in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination (MoCC and EC).

Addressing the attendees, including government and non-governmental stakeholders, educational institutions, academia, and representatives of the business and industrial sectors, Khurshid Alam emphasised the urgency of tackling plastic pollution to address environmental degradation and climate change-related challenges. She called for collective efforts to eliminate plastic pollution from all aspects of public life, stressing that shunning plastic use at all levels is essential to tackle the growing problem effectively.

Ambassadors, counsellor-generals, and High Commissioners from more than 12 countries, notably including Azerbaijan, were present at the event. They expressed their support for Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s vision of an environmentally-sustainable, climate-resilient, and plastic-free Pakistan, pledging both technical and non-technical assistance. Azerbaijan, set to host the upcoming two-week UN-led global climate summit (COP29) starting November 11 in Baku, also affirmed its commitment to the cause. Khurshid Alam highlighted Pakistan's pioneering role in launching the National Plastic Action Partnership program, demonstrating the country's leadership in global and regional efforts to combat plastic pollution.

Under Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s vision for a climate-resilient Pakistan, measures are being taken to protect lives, livelihoods, and enhance climate resilience of public infrastructure. Mainstreaming climate change in the national curriculum, with the support of relevant stakeholders including the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Ministry of Federal Education, is also underway. Khurshid Alam underscored the need for a comprehensive approach, mentioning the formation of a committee comprising experts from various fields across all federating units, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, to tackle environmental and climate change-related challenges effectively.

She highlighted the contrasting climate actions, mentioning Africa's droughts and Pakistan's devastating floods. Regional and global collaborations are essential to overcome common climate risks impacting various socio-economic sectors, particularly water, energy, and food.

Regarding plastic pollution, Khurshid Alam pointed out that 103 tonnes of plastic are dumped into various water bodies, degrading water quality and blocking drainage systems. Additionally, 1600 tonnes of plastic are openly burnt, causing respiratory illnesses among the public. She stressed the importance of global efforts to save aquatic life and terrestrial ecosystems from the hazards of plastic pollution.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination is actively approaching government and non-governmental organizations to completely ban single-use plastics and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on single-use plastic bottled water within the ministry. This initiative marks a significant milestone in Pakistan's commitment to environmental sustainability and sets a precedent for the region in the fight against plastic pollution.