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July 23, 2018

Environmental issues not on voters priority


July 23, 2018

Islamabad : Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute has said that high temperature, water scarcity and air pollution are top three environmental challenges Pakistan was facing but these are not included in the priority list of electorates to choose the candidates they would vote in the elections.

Dr Suleri Dr Suleri was presenting here the findings of the Environment Barometer jointly conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Herald magazine.

Dr Suleri said that the barometer aimed at assessing people’s perceptions on environment issues. He said that voters need to prioritise environmental issues such as heat-waves, water scarcity, climatic change and environment friendly development. He said the voters need to translate their choices into voting patterns.

According to the survey, 89 per cent of respondents believed that these environmental issues are negatively impacting their health, 74% of respondents said livelihood and 68 pc believed that their day to day social life was negatively impacted.

He observed that the voters' response on government’s actions to combat challenges of the environment was very dismal wherein only 4 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their respective government's measures and demanded more actions. Also, voters' response on the environment as a determinant for their vote in coming election was depressing, where only 13 per cent respondents prioritise environment as the determinant for casting their vote.

He said that 87 per cent respondent believed that human activities are largely responsible for these environmental issues, followed by natural causes (75 per cent) while 74% cited population growth as a major factor. Regarding provincial government’s efforts to address these challenges, 40 per cent respondents from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa believed that their government took some measures to tackle these challenges, followed by Punjab with 28 per cent, Sindh with 26 per cent and Baluchistan with 20 per cent.

Dr. Shafqat Munir, Associate Research Fellow, SDPI, said that the Environment Barometer shows that though the awareness level of the voters on environmental issues seems high, yet majority of them did not include environmental issues as determinants for voting in the 2018 elections. He said the rising awareness may play a key role in future to include environment on the priorities’ list of the people while pushing for their demands in terms of allocations in budget and electing their representatives.

In the question hour, Dr Abid said that 13 per cent neutral voters’ role would be decisive in the forthcoming general elections. This big chunk of voters had been indecisive until July 12th, the date of closing of this Political Barometer survey. He said the situation since July 13th to-date and till the final voting day cannot exactly be predicted. There might be some changing trends in real-time polling on July 25, 2018, he opined.

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