The urgency of environmental conservation

Climate change, loss of biodiversity and resource depletion demand immediate attention

The urgency of environmental conservation


ustainable consumption and production aim to improve production processes and consumption practices to reduce resource utilisation and waste generation across a life cycle. United Nations Environment Programme promotes a development path that understands natural capital as a critical economic asset and a source of public benefits, especially for poor people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. For this purpose the World Environment Day (June 5) provides a platform for raising awareness and taking action on critical environmental issues. It serves as a reminder of our collective responsibility to protect and preserve the planet we call home. The day highlights ways in which individuals, communities and organisations can contribute to a sustainable future.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted the World Environment Day 2024 with a focus on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience. Land restoration is a key pillar of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a rallying call for the protection and revival of land. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is deeply invested in delivering solutions. The Kingdom is acting nationally and regionally through the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative.

Around 3.2 billion people, 40 per cent of the global population, are adversely affected by land degradation. 25 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by land clearing. 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of coastal habitat loss. Decline in nature and biodiversity at current routes will undermine progress toward 35 out of 44 targets of SDGs related to poverty, hunger, health, water cities, climate, oceans and land. Around 27,000 trees are cut down every day. 78 per cent of the marine mammals are at risk of choking on plastic. A plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes but will remain in the environment for 1,000 years before it decomposes.

Climate change affects every country on every continent. It is caused by human activities and threatens the future of our planet. Its impacts include changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and more extreme weather events. If left unchecked, climate change will undo a lot of the progress made over the past years. It will also cause mass migrations that will lead to instability, conflict and wars.

Despite its considerable distance from the Arctic region, Pakistan’s environmental landscape bears a significant imprint from the consequences of Arctic warming. With a score of 87.83 out of 100 on the Climate Risk Index, the nation finds itself insecurely positioned in the face of enduring climate threats. Pakistan faces the monumental task of navigating through these environmental hazards while pursuing its Sustainable Development Goals. Recent data rates Pakistan with a score of 58.97, ranking it 128th out of 166 countries assessed on the SDG index.

Pakistan’s infrastructure advancement is at risk due to unpredictable weather patterns that result in flooding. The 2022 and 2023 monsoon seasons caused destruction in Pakistan’s housing, agriculture and livestock, transport and communications sectors. Flooding destroyed 410 bridges and damaged more than 13,000 kilometers of road and rail networks.

If left unchecked, climate change will undo a lot of the progress made over the past years. It will also cause mass migrations leading to instability, conflict and wars.

As of March 2023, 1.8 million people were still surrounded by stagnant floodwater from the 2022 flood that killed 800.000 cattle. This resulted in many farmers missing the winter season crop, leading to a decrease in agricultural output. This has resulted in food and water insecurity that affected more than 7 million people. Pakistan is at high risk from climate change and natural disasters. The 2022 events were the most devastating in Pakistan’s 75-year history.

In 2022 air quality ranking of the world’s most polluted countries and regions, Pakistan ranked third, preceded only by Chad and Iraq. In terms of cities, most of the world’s 50 most polluted cities in 2022 were located in India and Pakistan. That year, Lahore was also named the world’s most polluted city.

According to the World Bank, Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed places in the world, behind only six other countries, and world’s sixth most populous country with low water availability per person. Water availability per capita has decreased from 5,260 cubic metres in 1951 to about 1,000 cubic metres in recent years, indicating a severe water scarcity situation. The UNDP estimates that by 2025, Pakistan could be in a situation of absolute water scarcity, where there is not enough water to meet basic needs.

In addition to that, various factors contribute to raise water pollution levels in the country, from the lack of a comprehensive sewerage system in cities and inadequate sanitation infrastructure, to poor waste management and the excessive use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and untreated industrial effluents.

Rapid urbanisation and population growth have led to an increase in waste generation in the country. A recent World Bank report revealed that the country generates approximately 48.5 million tonnes of solid waste annually, an estimated 20 million tonnes in urban areas alone. According to estimates by the WHO Global Health Observatory, about 200 deaths per 100,000 population in Pakistan are attributable to environmental factors.

Environmental issues in Pakistan include air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, climate change, pesticide misuse, soil erosion, natural disasters, desertification and flooding.

It is evident that our actions have far-reaching consequences. Therefore, the urgency to address these environmental challenges cannot be overstated. Climate change, loss of biodiversity and resource depletion require immediate attention and concerted efforts from individuals, communities, media, governments and businesses.

Ms Inger Andersen, the UNEP executive director, said in a video message “It is time to listen to the planet’s warning. This is why this World Environment Day, we are asking you to protect nature to protect ourselves. This means ensuring a healthy natural world.”

The writer is a playwright and a freelance journalist. He can be reached at and his blogging site:

The urgency of environmental conservation