‘Climate crisis is getting so worse that it is re-shaping the development paradigm and socio-economic structure of society. To address this global challenge, youth should come forward and take leadership role’. This was stated by speakers during a seminar titled “Enhancing awareness and engagement of youth towards addressing coastal climate vulnerabilities and gender empowerment, jointly organized by WWF-Pakistan, University of Sindh in collaboration with Oxfam GB in Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Rafique Ahmed Memon, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Sindh University, Thatta Campus said that climate change is impacting almost each sector and has caused huge losses to country. He shared that as a result of climate impacts, most of the ecosystems are losing their resilience, therefore, earth has become much less hospitable for the modern globalized society. ‘Youth should be engaged in climate change initiatives as they can play pivotal role in promotion of climate change resilience and adaptation’ he added.
Dr. Tahir Rasheed, Regional Director WWF Pakistan said that despite its global ecological significance, the Indus Delta is most vulnerable to climate change impacts and is at a greater risk of degradation. He informed that decrease in river water flow has led to reduction in sediment deposition, seawater intrusion, land use changes, sea level rise and disappearance of various deltaic fish species. He said that these factors together are putting one of the largest and precious deltaic ecosystems of the world at a risk of shrinking and degradation.
Prof Dr Wazir Ali Baloch said that the coastal belt of Sindh is highly prone to climate change related disasters. Due to loss of livelihood resources, local people are migrating to other cities. He shared that scholars of University of Sindh are engaged in contributing towards mitigating the effects of climate change through several research projects. These efforts aim to improve the resilience of rural communities of Sindh and enhance their knowledge and skills to prepare for, adapt to and mitigate climate and disaster risks.
Dr Mukhtiar Ahmed Mahar, Director Coastal and Deltaic Studies, Sindh University Campus, Thatta said that coastal belt of Sindh is highly affected by climatic events. It is high time to develop understanding about the adverse impacts of climate change and find practical solutions. He emphasized that we need to introduce climate change resilient crop species to meet food security needs of people in the coastal belt.
Prof Dr Anila Naz Soomro said that climate-smart agricultural techniques, diversifying livelihoods, long-term sustainability of the environment and mangrove conservation should be promoted. She also appreciated to efforts of Sindh University and WWF-Pakistan along other organizations for encouraging research studies and supporting conservation efforts in the deltaic region.
Nasir Panhwar, environmentalist, said that the cost of degradation of the Indus Delta is over $2 billion per year. He also shared that for 138 days each year, the delta does not receive freshwater because the flows downstream of the Kotri Barrage have been limited to August and September only. The situation allows the seawater to penetrate the delta for hundreds of kilometers during large part of the year. The limited flow of freshwater is causing environmental degradation and negatively impacting traditional livelihoods, survival and resilience patterns in the presence of high levels of social inequalities. he added.
Jawad Umer Khan, Project Coordinator briefed the participants about the Oxfam GB project interventions in the coastal belt of Sindh. He shared progress of the mangroves conservation initiative and community engagement in the Indus delta. He informed that detailed researches have been made till now including community vulnerability and risk assessment, sectoral local adaptation plan of action and loss and damage calculations along with other studies.
Hamera Aisha, Manager WWF-Pakistan; WWF-Pakistan efforts aim to improve the resilience of rural communities of Sindh and enhance their knowledge and skills to prepare for, adapt to and mitigate climate and disaster risks.
Dr Rafique Ahmed Lashari, Director Centre for Pure and Applied Geology; Prof Dr Nek Muhammad Sheikh, Director Institute of Physics; Dr. Amanullah Mahar from Sindh University also spoke on the occasion
Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay
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