KARACHI: Pakistan has initiated green recovery process to weather the coronavirus storm unleashed on its economy through employing 65,000 people in ‘the 10-billion-tree tsunami’ project, an adviser said on Saturday.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Amin Aslam said the government began green stimulus initiative during the lockdown after the coronavirus outbreak. At least 65,000 people – most of them lost their jobs and came to back to home in rural areas – were employed in the 10-billion-tree tsunami project, he said addressing a video-link roundtable.
The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) hosted the gathering to mark the World Environment Day that fell on Friday.
“These jobs were mostly related to nurseries established to promote greenery and check wildfires in forest areas during the peak summer,” Aslam said in a statement. “Pakistan has become the first nation in the world to repurpose World Bank’s funds for revival of nature in the country in post-COVID-19 situation.”
The adviser said the World Bank allowed repurposing of $180 million of its funding for nature conversation in Pakistan, while recognising the green recovery process of the country during the pandemic.
The government ‘Clean, Green Pakistan Initiative’ is being conducted in 20 cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
FPCCI President Anjum Nisar said environmental degradation has been responsible for slow economic progress and backwardness of the poor sections.
“Exponential increase in the population has been responsible for the destruction of forests and nature reserves in the country,” said Nisar. “Irresponsible and unreasonable exploitation of the natural and mineral resources in the country have been responsible for various socioeconomic and health issues faced by the citizens.”
FPCCI president said Pakistan should focus on claiming carbon credits on the basis of its ever-increasing economic activities as being done by its neighbouring countries.
Shahid Amjad, former director general of National Institute of Oceanography stressed the need to conserve mangrove forests for protection of the marine ecosystem of the country. “Conservation of the coastal resources in the country should be made part of the national accounting system owing to their importance for a large section of Pakistani population.”
Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency Director General Farzana Altaf said Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 envisages imprisonment of up to two years for anyone causing harm to the environment, but such harsh measures against environmental degradation have been seldom used.
Sindh Environmental Protection Agency Director General Naeem Mughal said the agency has become the first environmental watchdog in the country, which initiated the process of penalising the government-run civic and municipal agencies for causing harm to the environment.