A Strong Environment for Collaboration in A Nation Vulnerable to Climate Change
Framed by mountains and lush with greenery, Islamabad serves as the capital of Pakistan, playing host to its ministries, provincial representatives, and development partners. Together, they are working to carve out a route toward sustainable development that supports Pakistan’s rapidly growing need for resources, while respecting its rich and diverse environments and provinces. Between them, there is a collaborative and cordial spirit, in which each is open to working together to ramp up progress.
This collaboration is visible through the engagements organized by the National Climate Change Policy and Implementation Committee (NCCPIC) and the Environmental Donor Coordination Group (EDCG). The Ministry of Climate Change chairs the NCCPIC, which is made up of sectoral and provincial representatives. The NDC Partnership recently participated in a mission to Islamabad where the NCCPIC took a significant step in engaging the Ministry of Planning and Development Reforms. During the mission, the Ministry of Planning and Development Reforms nominated a Focal Point to lead its work with the NDC Partnership and Ministry of Climate Change on the development of an NDC Roadmap.
This Roadmap will kickstart the process for ministries and provinces to articulate their needs for NDC implementation and mobilize targeted support from development partners. The Roadmap will also allow development partners to align their programmatic planning with Pakistan’s stated priority areas and improve transparency on initiatives within the development partner community to reduce duplication.
The EDCG also invited the NDC Partnership to participate in presentations to outline steps to support the Government of Pakistan in moving forward with development of an NDC Roadmap. Efforts made by the EDCG eliminated redundancies through regular meetings amongst development partners that operate within the environmental space.
Throughout the NCCPIC and EDCG meetings, the discussion of how this process will progress was inevitably full of mentions of specific issues that actors are eager to take on. Between the key stakeholders tackling the question about what to do about climate change and Pakistan’s NDC are three key areas that hold their attention: energy, water, and agriculture.
Energy: Well-Covered Territory
As recently as last year, major cities in Pakistan had significant durations of load-sharing during peak periods, whereas now that figure has dropped down to only a couple of hours per day during peak seasons. Such substantial progress in such a limited amount of time has been made due to the country’s efforts to diversify its energy sources, part of which has included an increasing use of renewable energy and energy efficiency approaches.
However, Pakistan is still in a bind as how to reconcile its continued construction of coal power plants with its commitment to reduce emissions by 20 percent against a business-as-usual scenario by 2030, as stated in its NDC. While there is no easy answer to this, there is significant enthusiasm and interest from the development partner community to provide Pakistan support in meeting its energy needs sustainably. In fact, the energy sector is where most development partners focus their efforts, in recognition of what the sector means for economic development as well as its climate impact.
Water: Provincial Priority
In Pakistan, water is becoming equivalent with life. This topic plays out along two lines: the first is concern for floods and coastal management, including early warning systems; and the second is water access and management, specifically efficiency and fair distribution. With Cape Town’s Day Zero fresh in everyone’s minds, provinces are especially keen to avoid facing a similar fate. Effectively managing water resources can contribute to increasing energy needs (such has already been done through construction of hydropower projects), thus supporting mitigation efforts, and promote resiliency and adaptation for those affected by too much water in the form of natural disasters or too little water in the form of inaccessibility.
Agriculture: An Area Unclaimed
While development partners are focused on energy, and provinces are focused on water, agriculture remains the elephant in the room that has largely been untouched. According to the most recent available data (2014), the sector contributes roughly 41 percent of emissions. Despite this, agriculture is a nuanced issue where it is difficult to intervene without ripple effects into local livelihoods and institutions. It is in this sector, in particular, that many interested parties advocate for increased technology transfer that could support improved efficiency of land use.
In many ways, the areas of energy, water, and agriculture are intertwined and overlapping, yet they require distinct forms of action to meet Pakistan’s mitigation and adaptation goals by 2030. Now that Pakistan has done the groundwork in identifying broad priority areas, the NDC Roadmap will be a key tool in helping to identify, organize and prioritize mitigation and adaptation goals and actions.
The will and dedication to collaborate in the interest of a greater Pakistan is present amongst the key stakeholders situated in the capital. But with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the Country passed in 2010 giving greater authority to the provinces, the next step will be to engage provinces on their turf. This decentralized approach to addressing climate change and NDC implementation puts Pakistan in a unique position, offering the opportunity to take on localized approaches that address specific needs.