Prof. Dr. Muhammad Suleman Tahir
Pakistan’s economy, like many others worldwide, faced severe challenges and disruptions in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, energy crises, and fiscal deficits have all contributed to economic instability. To ensure a resilient and sustainable future, Pakistan must embrace innovative approaches in key sectors such as sustainable manufacturing, modern agriculture, the chemical industry, energy storage and handling, and bio refineries.
Currently, Pakistani economy is facing variety of challenges. Majority of economic indicators are declining. Pakistan experienced a sharp decline in GDP growth, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In FY 2022-23, Pakistan’s GDP growth rate stood at 0.3%, according to data from the State Bank of Pakistan.High inflation rates have eroded purchasing power and strained household budgets. In July 2021, Pakistan’s annual inflation rate was recorded at 19.9%, according to the World Bank open data.Energy shortages have plagued Pakistan’s industries and households for years. According to the International Energy Agency, Pakistan’s electricity generation capacity has struggled to meet demand, leading to frequent blackouts.The fiscal deficit reached 4.6% of GDP in FY 2022-23, according to the Ministry of Finance. High deficits can lead to inflation and hinder economic growth.Given these challenges, it is imperative to explore sustainable strategies that can not only address these issues but also lay the foundation for a more resilient and prosperous economy.
Sustainable manufacturing involves minimizing environmental impacts, optimizing resource use and adopting cleaner technologies. Developed economies like Germany have successfully implemented sustainable manufacturing practices, leading to increased competitiveness and reduced environmental harm.Germany’s “Industry 4.0” initiative has transformed its manufacturing sector by integrating digital technologies, robotics, and IoT to enhance efficiency and reduce waste. This approach has not only boosted productivity but also reduced resource consumption. Pakistan can emulate such models to revitalize its manufacturing sector, which contributed 9.2% to GDP in 2022.
Agriculture remains a vital sector in Pakistan, employing a significant portion of the population. However, outdated farming practices and limited access to modern technology have hampered productivity. In contrast, countries like the Netherlands have embraced modern agriculture techniques, achieving high yields with minimal environmental impact.The Netherlands employs precision agriculture, using data-driven decision-making, and advanced machinery to maximize crop yields. For example, they have pioneered vertical farming and greenhouse technologies, reducing land requirements and water usage while increasing productivity. Pakistan’s adoption of similar techniques could bolster food security and increase exports, given its fertile land and diverse climate.
The chemical industry provides crucial raw materials to various sectors, including agriculture and manufacturing. To promote sustainability, developed nations like Sweden have invested heavily in green chemistry, which emphasizes the development of environmentally friendly products and processes.Sweden’s chemical industry has seen significant growth in biodegradable and eco-friendly products, aligning with global trends towards sustainability. Pakistan could harness this potential by investing in research and development to create green chemicals and processes. This not only reduces environmental harm but also opens up new markets and revenue streams.
Bio refineries offer a sustainable approach to produce biofuels, bio-chemicals, and biodegradable materials from biomass resources. Many developed economies, including the United States and Brazil, have embraced bio refineries as a means to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote a circular economy.The United States, for instance, has made significant strides in biofuel production from corn and soybean feedstocks. Brazil has become a global leader in bioethanol production from sugarcane. Pakistan, with its substantial biomass potential, can establish bio refineries to produce biofuels and value-added bio-chemicals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating employment.
A reliable energy supply is essential for economic stability and growth. Many developed countries have transitioned to renewable energy sources coupled with advanced energy storage solutions, reducing carbon emissions and ensuring a stable power supply.Germany’s Energiewende, or energy transition, is a prime example. It involves a shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power in favor of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. By 2020, Germany produced over 57.7% of its electricity from renewables, according to the Fraunhofer Institute. Pakistan can follow suit, capitalizing on its abundant solar and wind resources to reduce energy shortages and mitigate climate change.
Pakistan’s economic challenges are formidable, but they are not insurmountable. By embracing sustainable manufacturing, modernizing agriculture, investing in green chemistry, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and establishing bio refineries, Pakistan can pave the way for economic revival and long-term sustainability. Solutions evolved by the developed economies like Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and Brazil illustrate the transformative power of sustainable practices. These examples serve as beacons of hope, showcasing how sustainable approaches can lead to economic prosperity while mitigating environmental harm. With the right policies, investments, and commitment to sustainability, Pakistan can emerge from its economic challenges stronger, more resilient, and on a path toward a sustainable future.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Suleman Tahir
KhwajaFareed University of Engineering and Information Technology, Rahim Yar Khan