Climate Change

Covid-19 has created an opportunity for Pakistan to respond to threats emanating from climate change, says Amin Aslam

Islamabad: Special Advisor to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has said that covid-19 has created an opportunity for Pakistan to respond to threats emanating from climate change

The SAPM on Climate Change further said that Pakistan has initiated a green stimulus program which is focused on green employment and saving nature.

He said this during his address at the roundtable webinar “Debt swaps for green recovery: opportunities, challenges and way forward for Pakistan” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

“As the country is inclined towards clean green initiatives, this government is focusing on financing this transition through various mechanisms,” Aslam said, adding that the first step in this regard is restructuring of ADB financing.

The initiative is focused on green employment whereas the Ecosystem restoration fund, in which $ 120 Million from the World Bank is being utilized for ecosystem restoration.

Besides, the objective is to be achieved through creation of estimated 100,000 green jobs based on these activities.

Aslam further said that the government is also focusing on ‘Debt for Nature’ Swap and Green Euro bond worth $ 500 million for hydropower projects.

SDPI Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive said it is not only Pakistan but the countries across the globe are facing financial constraints and it has limited their window and fiscal availability for investment in green development.

“Swapping our debt for nature, biodiversity, green and clean projects, could be a useful source for taking care of Covid-19 recoveries and social safety,” Dr Suleri maintained.

Chief SDGs Support Unit, Ministry of Planning & Special Initiatives, M Ali Kemal, informed the participants that several debt swaps agreements are taking place through which 85,000 green jobs have been created under the climate change agenda. Besides, $ 180 million has been generated for ecosystem restoration. He added further that Covid-19 has led to the digitalization of different sectors that can be a pathway for a country to improve its index.

FCDO Climate Change Adviser Sobiah Becker explained how upcoming opportunities can be utilized for debt swaps in COP-26 as well.  This pandemic has shown that planetary health is also linked with human health, she added.

Khurram Lalani from Energy & Infrastructure, Resources Future, said that it was initially assumed that the pandemic will lead to less investment in green infrastructure globally, but the entire opposite has happened and 96 per cent of the investments have increased during the last year.

SEED Strategic Planning Advisor Omar Mukhtar Pakistan, opined that for building back better, we must ensure that economic recovery exists. Debt for climate swaps should be among the environmental goals.

The fiscal space is tough in Pakistan and the federal share of government revenue is 3300 Billion out of which 2600 Billion were paid in debt while the remaining were borrowed for expenses.

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