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November 26, 2020

Moot stresses need to recognise severity of climate change impacts

Karachi

November 26, 2020

In a first of its kind conference on climate change risks to the future of children in Pakistan, a large number of children and youths hailing from various academic institutions shared their experiences of dealing with climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, as well as the way forward to address these challenges.

The conference was organised by The Research and Development Foundation (RDF) in collaboration with a German International Child Focused Development Organization Kindernothilfe (KNH), co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Sindh government.

The conference, held at a local hotel on Tuesday, attracted the participation of more than 150 children and youths, government officials and civil society representatives, who opined that children’s rights of dignified access to safe water, sanitation, quality education, food, health, socialisation, participation and association were affected in any disaster.

German Counsel General in Karachi Holger Ziegler, who inaugurated the conference, recognised the efforts of the RDF for supporting Pakistan’s government to explore future actions to address climate-related challenges from children and youths’ perspective. He said that there was “a dire need for people to recognise the severity of climate change impacts and encourage children and youth to play an active role in combating climate change”.

Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the Sindh chief minister on law, environment and coastal development, who was the chief guest at the event, said awareness regarding climate change was very crucial for mitigating its effects.

He appreciated the strategies of the RDF to engage women, children and youths from Tharparkar, Khipro, and far-flung areas of seven districts of Sindh who were interacting with German experts and the German Consulate. He encouraged the audience not to rely on politicians and government only but to take the responsibility themselves to play their role in the fight against climate change.

Youth leader from Germany Line Niedeggen interacted with the children and youths and described how the Fridays for Future movement in Germany was mobilising youth for climate resilience building.

Sharing her journey of starting this movement in Germany, she said that in the initial days, they received an amazing response from the children and youths and they showed their willingness to join their movement. She emphasised that people should listen to science and the best scientific results, not to individuals, not to Greta, and not to her.

Ashfaque Soomro, RDF’s executive director, said that all stakeholders should come forward to work together for bright and resilient future prospects for the children and youths, who were 64 per cent of Pakistan’s total population. “We are the fifth-youngest nation in the world, but at the same time we are the fifth nation most vulnerable to climate change,” he said.

Director-General Pakistan Meteorological Department Riaz Ahmed said that climate change is not a short-term problem but a long-term problem. He referred to the data generated by the meteorological department about the extreme weather witnessed in Pakistan in the recent years. He added that fluctuations in rain in Sindh were frequent and caused urban flooding instead of riverine floods.

Kiran Shahzadi, country coordinator of the KNH in Pakistan, said the KNH was a German child-focused organization, which had been working in Pakistan through 23 projects since the late 1970s and supporting many child and climate-related projects in Pakistan.