Gilgit, June 05, 2015: WWF-Pakistan celebrated World Environment Day (WED) to raise environmental awareness and to sensitize people, the government and all stakeholders to protect nature from human-led activities and to consume responsibly. A half-day seminar was organized in collaboration with Karakoram International University (KIU), Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency (GB EPA), Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), and Serena Hotel Gilgit.
Speakers from ICIMOD, AKRSP, SERENA Hotel Gilgit, GB EPA and PARC shed light on key issues, challenges and possible interventions regarding the theme and slogan of WED this year in addition to climate change, ecosystems and livelihoods in GB and other mountain areas of Pakistan. It also raised awareness among students of KIU, selected schools of Gilgit and local communities about environment friendly solid waste management technologies such as composting of biodegradable waste and bioremediation of wastewater by the PARC experts. Furthermore two sets of waste bins were also installed near canteen areas of KIU. Sajjad Haider, Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department GB jointly with Dr. Nadeem Amjad, Member Natural Resource Division, PARC chaired the event.
According to Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan, ‘This year’s slogan for World Environment Day is Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. which highlights that the Earth’s resources are not finite and must be consumed responsibly, especially with a growing population, and in order to build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.’
The idea to promote responsible use of natural resources was also highlighted in the recent Living Planet Report 2014 by WWF which shows that humanity’s demand on the planet is 50 per cent more than what nature can renew, meaning it would take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current ecological footprint.
Getting into Pakistan’s context, a report by WWF-Pakistan titled Situation Analysis of the Water Resources of Lahore: Establishing a case for Water Stewardship highlights the increasing degradation and depletion of water supplies of Lahore. It warns of acute water shortages in the metropolitan city, partially due to uncontrolled population growth. An estimate states that the population of Lahore is expected to increase to approximately 22 million by 2025, out of which 84 per cent of people are expected to live in urban areas, exacerbating water scarcity.
Another report by WWF-Pakistan titled Climate Change Adaptation in the Indus Ecoregion: A Micro-Econometric Study of the Determinants, Impact and Cost Effectiveness of Adaptation Strategies highlights the deteriorating impacts of climate change on Pakistan’s agriculture and food security. The report clearly shows that climate change will likely have a large cost on agricultural productivity in the country. In particular, by 2040 assuming a 0.50 Celsius increase in average nationwide temperatures, an 8 to 10 per cent loss in productivity is expected across all crops corresponding to PKR 30,000 per acre.
Events were also held in Khunjerav, Diamer, Hoper Nagar, Nathiagali, Lahore, and Karachi.
The slogan Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. rightfully encourages us to make collective effort to make a change. World Environment Day is an initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which was originally established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. This day was first celebrated in 1973, to protect biodiversity, the ecosystem and to curb emissions to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change and global warming.