Devcom-Pakistan World Earth Day regional webinar urged the revival of SAARC and other regional platforms besides establishing a regional parliamentary caucus for climate change. The speakers asked the world leaders to allocate appropriate funds and green technology transfer to strengthen the region.


Islamabad – Speaking at a regional webinar, the experts urged the neighbouring countries in the region to develop a common regional cooperation framework for sustainable development and to combat the challenges of climate changes. Unfortunately the region faces both political and technical obstacles in developing a sustainable approach to meet the ever enhancing crisis and emergencies. This is exacerbated by non-availability of reliable data, geo-information as well as reluctance to acknowledge and effectively address the problem by key actors.

Today environment and climate change issues have become so significant in the world that governments, regional bodies and international organizations are agonizing over ways to control the continuously deteriorating situation. Environmental problems know no political boundaries and ethnic hatred; these transcend states and regions and thus need to be managed through interregional engagements among governments and institutions.

Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and DTN organized the regional webinar on “Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development and to combat Climate Change” on Saturday to mark the World Earth Day that falls on April 22.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam was the chief guest. The panel of experts included seasoned politician and former senator Farhatullah Babar, Country Head IUCN-Pakistan Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Senior Research Fellow Dr. Dan Ge (China), Chief Executive Officer Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KPBIO&T) Hassan Daud Butt, World Resources Institute Director Climate Change Ulka Kelkar, Tehran International Study and Research Institute (TISRI) Senior Research Fellow Dr. Yahya Jahangiri (Iran), Environment and Climate Advocacy expert Geeta Panday (Nepal), senior journalist and attorney-at-law Dilrukshi Handunnetti (Sri Lanka), and Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed. Former Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi shared his message on the occasion.

Malik Amin Aslam said Pakistan has very strong political will to address the environmental and climate challenges confronting the country despite its carbon emissions less than one percent. Pakistan is striving to be a part of the solution, through nature based initiatives, and is committed to not add to the problem of climate change. The SAARC and other forums shall be revived for vigorous collaboration and joint action plans to protect the vulnerable communities, economies and diminishing livelihood resources.

Seasoned politician and former senator Farhatullah Babar asked to have a parliamentary caucus of the regional countries for integrated solutions and legal frameworks for the region. He also urged meaning dialogue and communities among the countries beyond their political and ethnic divides. 

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema said the sharing of experiences on the mitigating strategies. India, Nepal and Bangladesh benefitted from the Global Climate Fund financing and it would be very useful if they share their experience with the other countries of the region. We also need to adopt smart climate change approaches to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries that addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change. The Asia Protected Areas Partnership has been established which is a leading network to promote regional collaboration, best practices and innovative solutions for Asia protected areas.

Dr. Dan Ge said it is unrealistic and unfair for developing countries to have sustainable development without taking into account its endeavor to improve social and economic development. The developed countries shall carry on the current environment protection measures, and shoulder more responsibilities of carbon neutrality. They shall selflessly share or approve the sale of the advanced technology to the 3rd world countries. The developing countries shall learn from the West and try to avoid the vicious circle of damage before treatment, and develop their own technology by vigorously assisting and supporting scientific and technological researches. They shall also develop their own economy and improve their people’s living standards and are also the foundation of sustainable development.

Hassan Daud said that this is a critical time when our planet needs our attention and care to remove the excess carbon from our atmosphere. Pragmatic planning for this early and action based solutions is required including the one like the billion tree Tsunami initiative by the Government. Global leaders have to show commitment towards a sustainable green growth for our planet. Early action at communities’ level is also required to start reforestation.

Geeta Panday said we need a meaningful global, regional, and country-level partnership, cooperation, and collaboration. All we need is a strong commitment and dynamic leadership at all levels. It is evident that the most affected by these climate crises are the poor and the underdeveloped countries. The civil society can create a common regional policy platform to raise, capacitate, advocate and lobby to sensitize the common global issues of the climate crisis.

Dilrukshi Handunnetti said the earth needs restorative action and much of it due to human activity. In our drive towards development, South Asia has created many environmental crises. To highlight the commonality of these issues and to learn about best practices and possibly replicate what’s good and solid in South Asia, we need development communicators who can play a vital role of creating knowledge platforms, inform and promote regional understanding.=DNA