Ellie Chivers looks at the steps Pakistan took to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 10 years early.
Photo by Shutter Games | Location: Murree, Pakistan
Pakistan has “demonstrated its commitment to the clean and green future” by achieving the UN Sustainable Development ‘Climate Action’ goal a decade before the deadline. The ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ initiative was taken on by all members of the United Nations in 2015, and involves the member states committing to achieving 17 targets to ensure a greener future.
Pakistan have fulfilled goal number 13 – ‘Climate Action’ – of this 17-stage programme. In an effort to prevent and prepare for climate-related disasters and issues, Pakistan have taken a number of admirable measures and steps forward in sustainability, including:
Introducing afforestation – more trees have been planted than felled
Biodiversity conservation by protecting species
Investment in clean energy sources
Introduction of more electric vehicles onto the road
Focus on training for an investment in careers orientated around sustainability
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Creating a sustainable and liveable future has underscored much of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies – from economics to living standards. Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, praised Pakistan for several of their projects that have helped them achieve their goal.
Notably, since 2018, they have been working on their 10 Billion Trees Tsunami programme, which has already seen the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees to reverse the effects of deforestation.Also, their Protected Areas Initiative pushes for greater conservation efforts, enforcing better protection of their national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserves. These are just a couple of the astounding commitments Pakistan have made to help tackle climate change, and why they are so early to reaching the goal.
Very recently, Pakistan also introduced their ‘Green Stimulus’ package at the height of the global Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that the focus on conservation isn’t abandoned. This project gives people “guardians of nature” jobs, which is promoting economic and sustainable development even in such a difficult and straining time.
A “Roadmap” To Success
The Sustainable Development Goals programme incorporates a number of important objectives that encourage all participating countries to better health services, education and sanitation, as well as the reduction of inequality, preservation of the environment, tackling of climate change and the continuation of economic growth.
‘Climate Action’ is just one of 17 goals within the project, alongside other fundamental societal improvements including ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, and ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’, just to name a few. These are all hugely important areas that need addressing, and many – such as climate action – are urgent.
The UN reported that 2019 was the second warmest year on record, with CO2 and other greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere at alarmingly high rates.
They also emphasised that due to travel bans and lockdown situations, greenhouse gases and the effect of climate change will not be as present in 2020 – however this is not forever. In fact, emissions are expected to climb higher than before once we return to normality.
The European Union has criticised the Brazilian government over concerns that increasing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest fires in Brazil could cancel out EU climate change mitigation efforts. This has increased calls to boycott Brazilian products and withhold ratification of the trade agreement reached in 2019 between the EU and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc.
A study by the science journal, Nature, suggests the economic benefit of leaving the Amazon rainforest in its current state would be $8.2bn a year, but continued deforestation of the Amazon would lead to a fall in rainwater and agricultural losses of $442m, as well as other social and economic losses that could result in a loss totalling $3.5 trillion over a 30-year period. The cost of saving the Amazon is estimated to be only $64bn in comparison, which could help restore the landscape and change agricultural practices, thus also saving the ‘Earth’s lungs.’
This initiative is a plea to countries to address climate change in order to save lives, and while it is immensely encouraging to see Pakistan making such impressive developments, it’s crucial that the other member states take their commitment seriously, and come together to save the planet and improve lives.
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