Gilgit, Sep 17: International Conference on “Mountains and Climate Change – Resources, Challenges and Opportunities for Better Life and Livelihoods” commenced on Thursday at the Karakoram International University (KIU) Gilgit-Baltistan, aiming to raise awareness on impacts of climate change on mountain communities, particularly in the northern Pakistan.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference the Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeez-Ur-Rehman said that Gilgit-Baltistan being a mountainous region has been facing challenges related to climate change. He said that disasters for the last many years have caused immense damages in terms of human lives and means of livelihood.
He said that the provincial government does not have sufficient resources to deal with these challenges because of scattered topography of the region. However, a sum of PKR 200 million has been allocated in fiscal budget 2015-16 for strengthening capacities of the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA) to deal with disasters and climatic hazards effectively, the CM added.
He urged the national and international organizations to join hands with the provincial government in hydro-power generation projects to meet the region’s energy needs, and to reduce dependency on timber, thus controlling deforestation.
“Melting of glaciers is one of the most challenging issues related to climate change in the mountainous, because retreating glaciers can put people at a high risk” said KIU Vice Chancellor Dr. Muhammad Asif Khan while explaining the conference’s objectives. He added that the purpose of this conference is to raise awareness about emerging issues of climate change at local, national and internal levels so that people could be able to make research studies on potential threats of climatic hazards.
“ Climate change is an emerging threat not only to the inhabitants of the mountainous regions but also their livelihood and ecosystems of the area” said WWF’s regional head Dr. Babar Khan adding that mountain agriculture is completely depend on ice/snow melt, changing agriculture patterns affecting productively.
He said that this conference aims at to offer a knowledge platform to experts and researchers a unique opportunity to deliberate on existing emerging issues of mountain communities concerning to food, water, energy and disaster.
“A number of International experts from Kathmandu University, Nepal; Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway; ICIMOD; Politecnico di Milano, Italy; College of Environmental Protection Velenje Trg mladosti Velenje, Slovenia, EU; EV-K2-CNR; and Institute for Ecosystem Study, Italy will discuss various aspects of climate change to sensitize masses on the pressing issue”, KIU Spokesman Shahid Shigri told Pamir Times.
He said that the national experts will be included from KIU, WWF Pakistan, AKRSP, University of Agriculture, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), government departments and other educational institutions.
The conference is being jointly organized by the Karakoram International University, WWF Pakistan, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Integrated Mountain Area Research Center (IMARC), EV-K2-CNR; NORHED, Department of Agriculture, Forests, Wildlife and Environment Department Gilgit-Baltistan, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and Mountain Agriculture Research Center (MARC) of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council.
The conference will continue till Saturday followed by a field visit to highlight the impacts of climate change in the region