Trans-Himalaya Forum calls for closer cooperation to combat challenges



ISLAMABAD:  The Online Seminar on Ecological Environment Protection convened under the auspices of the Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation simultaneously from Beijing and Lhasa, capital of Tibet province of China. The Forum had a diverse and distinguished participation from Asia, Europe, USA and Latin America, including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd. China’s Vice Foreign Minister Lou Zhaohui, who has served as Ambassador to Pakistan, also gave a Keynote Speech. The Forum was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Tibet provincial government acted as one-host.

Speaking on behalf of the Pakistan Parliament, Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on Pakistan’s Climate Change challenges, China’s leadership role on Climate Change and the way forward for future cooperation. He thanked China for being the first country to give a generous donation of half a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which were airlifted yesterday.

He briefed the audience about the looming environmental crisis in Pakistan and said that Pakistan is among the 7th most vulnerable countries gravely affected by climate change.  In the last 25 years, it had over 150 freak weather incidents of flash floods, forest fires, melting glaciers, freaky heat waves, landslides and avalanches, which have displaced populations and disrupted life in general.  For instance, during the floods that hit Pakistan 10 years ago, 20% of Pakistan’s territory and 10% of its population was displaced in two provinces, causing a whopping $ 16 billion  loss to the national economy.

Senator Mushahid said that China’s commitment to climate change, especially underlined by President Xi Jinping that China will become carbon-neutral by 2060 and China is trying to peak carbon-dioxide emissions before 2030 is a heartening development. He commended President Xi Jinping’s dream to build a road of green development at the second Belt & Road Forum and said that under Chinese leadership, the forthcoming World Climate Change conference scheduled to be held in November 2021, COP 26, in Glasgow will be a great success.

Moreover, he proposed three important elements for the way-forward on climate change in the context of the Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation. Firstly, he called for delinking the issue of climate change from geopolitics and a cold war mentality and echoed President Xi’s ‘abandoning ideological prejudice’ rhetoric. Secondly, he urged the need to select specific projects to promote climate change in the Trans-Himalaya region from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Thirdly, he suggested the Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation to hold consultation of regional BRI partner states prior to the convening of COP 26 on November 21.

He concluded his speech by quoting President Xi who said: “There is only one earth and one shared future for humanity”.

The Forum informed that two global conferences will be held in 2021 on Climate Change: one in Kunming, China, and the other in Glasgow, UK, and both would be useful opportunities to promote global cooperation on Climate Change.