Monday September 26, 2022

‘UN working to prepare for next five-year programme for Pakistan’

By Our Correspondent
January 11, 2022

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Julien Harneis, along with their teams, discussed UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Network 2023-27 priorities on Monday to ensure better Indus River Basin management, improved water access and utilisation and economic development in the country.

From the government side, the meeting was attended by provincial ministers Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Ismail Rahu, Jam Khan Shoro, advisers Manzoor Wassan and Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi and relevant secretaries.

The visiting delegation included Head of UN Resident Coordinator’s Office Shah Nasir Khan, Regional Coordinator UN Environment Programme Asia Pacific Regional Office Bangkok Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, WFP Sindh head Dr Aftab Ahmed Bhatti, UN Regional Office Aban Marker Kabraji, Assistant UNFAO Representative Aamer Irshad, Provincial Coordination Officer Imran Khan Leghari and Additional Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Judith Ayaz.

UN Pakistan chief Harneis said the current Sustainable Development Framework for the United Nations in Pakistan 2018-2022 would conclude in December 2022. The UN in Pakistan, he said, was in the process of working to prepare for the next five-year programme called the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2023-27’.

He said the new framework would be aligned with Pakistan’s priorities towards Agenda 2030 and would focus on supporting the government in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The CM said his government’s strategic priority was focused on climate change and environment, with priorities being support for the Indus River basin management and development to achieve a sustainable and healthy river basin, improved water access and utilisation, economic development, livelihoods, climate resilient settlements and prosperity of vulnerable communities living in the basin.

Shah said Pakistan’s population was growing at two per cent per year. “This population explosion has resulted in the country meeting the international definition of water stress - water availability in Pakistan has plummeted from about 5,000 cubic metres per capita in the early 1950s to less than 1,000 metres per capita today.”

“The Indus River basin flows from the mountains of Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and it feeds millions in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh.”The chief minister said more than ninety 95 per cent of the population of Pakistan lived within its confines.

The river basin has sustained life in what is now Pakistan for over 5,000 years from the civilisations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro until the present day. “However, climate change is shrinking the glaciers and making rains less predictable, reducing agricultural production and washing away the homes of the most vulnerable people,” he said. “Pollution from industry and agriculture and domestic sewage is sickening tens of millions of people who drink from its (River Indus) waters.”

Shah said contamination from arsenic, nitrates, metals, plastic waste and microbiological contaminants was all at dangerous levels. “Environmental degradation at the river mouth is increasing salinisation of the delta and destroying marine ecosystems and the fishing economy,” he said.

The CM said that without immediate and concerted action, this basin which has sustained life for millennia would falter: agricultural production would drop, and flooding would increase contributing to malnutrition and waterborne and non-communicable diseases; therefore, children, agricultural workers and urban slum dwellers would be the most affected.

To galvanise progress on the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations is trying to accelerate its delivery of results within countries. The ambitious agenda is a commitment made by 193 governments in 2015 to boost social, economic, and environmental gains, while leaving no one behind. That’s why, UN member states have supported reforms to reposition the UN development system.

The CM formed a group of planning & development departments with the UN team so that necessary paperwork could be finalised to firm up the suggestions for the upcoming project.

An eight-member delegation led by Julien Harneis called on Governor Imran Ismail at the Governor’s House to discuss matters relating to health, pollution, climate change, environment, availability of potable water and other pertinent issues.