Pakistan, 6 November 2019 — Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan is beset with serious environmental conservation and climate change challenges that pose serious risks to the country’s efforts for achieving socio-economic and poverty reduction goals.
However, there is pressing need to pursue the development of effective policies geared towards conserving natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity. These policies will build the foundation for economic productivity and improved livelihoods and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia, he told participants of the inaugural session of the 3-day 7th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asia Regional Conservation Forum that kicked off here today
The Forum, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan is co-hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan and IUCN through the National Committee of IUCN Members in Pakistan.
The prime minister said further that protecting the environment is one of his priorities when he started his term as Prime Minister. “With the active participation of youth in the country, the implementation of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project has become a gigantic step towards restoring and protecting the country’s natural resources.
The project is now generating jobs for hundreds of people in country, he added.
More than 400 delegates from governments, NGOs, research and academic institutions and the private sector, from 24 countries in South, East and Southeast Asia and other parts of the world are participating in this event, which happens once every four years. Attendees included high-level government officials, diplomats, IUCN members, and private sector representatives.
The forum is one of Asia’s most important nature conservation events – kicked-off today with a strong focus on convening a broad range of sectors and actors to develop solutions to tackle the region’s environment and development challenges.
Prime Minister’s Advisor on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that Asia accounts for 60% of the world’s current population. It also has the highest growth rate today and is home to nearly half of the world’s poorest people, rendering poverty a key issue to be addressed. According to World Bank’s report in 2018, of the 783 million extremely poor who live below the poverty line, 33% live in South Asia and 9% live in East Asia and the Pacific.
“This is a lucid comparison to the stature of the region, which is considered a key driver of global economy; most countries are likely to reach middle-income status by 2020 and Asia is in the trajectory of becoming the World’s Economic Centre of Gravity by 2050. With many Asian economies relying on ecosystem services, there is an urgent need to conserve the region’s rich biological resources,” he highlighted.
Amin Aslam said further that his ministry would carry out a five-point agenda including 10 billion tree tsunami, banning single-use plastic ban, Clean Green Index to change behaviour on waste management, Electric Vehicle Policy and Recharge Pakistan project on ecosystem restoration.
He stressed engagement of community particularly youth and women to promote the cause environmental protection.
Addressing the inaugural session of the Forum, IUCN Acting Director General, Grethel Aguilar said
the Asia has to act now for environmental conservation.
He told participants, “Nature is under intense attack. A quarter of vertebrate and plant species on the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction, and the world does not seem to be on course to achieve many of the Aichi biodiversity targets by the 2020 deadline.”
“This is why the next 10 years will be crucial. By 2030, the world must achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals, and we must realize that in order to do this, we must stay positive and believe that we can do it,” added IUCN Acting Director General.
“To achieve environmental conservation in the Asia region, IUCN needs to build on its strong presence in Asia, and in other parts of the developing world. We need to be sure that our major investments are taking place in the parts of the world where growth is happening and where governments need support to ensure that the development is sustainable,” said IUCN Global President Zhang Xinsheng during his address.
The forum, which is taking place place here at a local Hotel will continue till November 8, 2019. It provides a platform for leaders from all sectors of society to discuss solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges in Asia.
Under the theme of “Greening Asia for Nature and People”, the forum will focus on themes related to nature-based solutions to address societal challenges. A variety of side events on a broad range of topics will also be held during the 3-day event.
Discussions from the Asia Regional Conservation Forum will help shape conservation action for the next decade, as it will feed into the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which will be held in Marseille, France in June 2020.