ISLAMABAD: Federal Climate Change Ministry’s Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan has emphasized the need for global efforts to boost climate resilience of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, which is vital to achieving sustainable socio-economic development.
“However, for understanding impacts of climate change on the WASH sector, there is pressing need for analysing the risks to delivery of WASH sector posed by climate change and conducting economic analysis of the costs and benefits of adaptation options,” he said while addressing a high-level session on WASH Climate Resilience held in Stockholm, Sweden, on the sidelines of the week-long World Water Week (WWW).
According to a press release issued here on Sunday, the event is being held under the theme “Water for Development”. The annual global water event is organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and has been taking place in Stockholm, Sweden since 1991.
Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events about water and development issues. It is also an opportunity for individuals from around the globe also present their findings at the scientific workshops. It brings together around 2,500 experts, practitioners, decision makers and business innovators from around the globe to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions.
The climate change secretary told the participants that Climate change is the gravest unfolding challenge of present time, which poses risk to our very existence and sustainability of livelihoods and socio-economic sectors, particularly agriculture, water and health. “There is, however, widespread consensus on the urgent need for action to tackle the impacts of climate change through well-targeted adaptation efforts,” Arif Ahmed Khan said.
Talking about climate change effects on water sector, he said that while the global water cycle is being directly affected by climate change, people’s access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene solutions can be significantly would never remain immune to negative impacts of extreme events such as floods and droughts.
Therefore, water scarcity would grow from bad to worse – a situation which underlines need for water harvesting, conservation and its judicious application at all levels, he warned.
“Despite facing floods continuously since 2010, we are proud to say that Pakistan is among the 95 countries of the world, which have achieved the sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG). Now, 64% of the country’s population has now access to sanitation compared to 24% in 1990,” he highlighted.
He further said that the UNICEF has placed the country among just 77 countries, which have met both the drinking water and the sanitation MDG targets. Besides, the number of people defecting in the open has been reduced from 46 to 25 million during the last decade. Pakistan is ranked 5th among those 16 countries, which have reduced the open defection by at least by 25%,
Arif Ahmed Khan said further.
Present Pakistani government was very much acquainted with the impacts and making all-out efforts to cope with them and make water and agriculture and WASH sectors climate-resilient to survive growing and intensifying climate risks, the secretary highlighted.
“A number of policy measures have already been taken by the climate change ministry to boost country’s resilience in various socio-economic sectors including WASH sector.
These include, “Implementation of the national climate change policy (NCCP) in collaboration with various stakeholders to ensure that climate change is mainstreamed in the economically and socially vulnerable sectors of the economy and to set the country on the path of climate resilient and low-carbon development,” he told the participants.
The climate change secretary further said that for minimising adverse impacts of climate change on the water sector, the preparation of integrated national, provincial, and local level master plans are being framed, which encompass technical, social, environmental, administrative, and financial considerations.
He welcomed the launch of a Strategic Framework launched on the sidelines of the global water conference in Stockholm, hoping that it would be a guiding roadmap on how the WASH sector can be made to adapt effectively to the climate change challenges at the global level.
“Applying the Framework will also guide us in strengthening the capacities of governments at different levels and communities to build resilience over time,” Arif Ahmed Khan hoped.