Gilgit, 11 December 2016: (PR) WWF-Pakistan, Gilgit Office in collaboration with Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB-EPA), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Aga Khan Health Services Gilgit, Pakistan(AKHSP), Hashwan Group of Traders, Biodiversity Business and Mountain to Market, Wildlife Conservation Society, Forest and Wildlife Department GoGB, Mountain Media Group and Serena Hotel Gilgit jointly celebrated International Mountain Day 2016 “Mountain Cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity” at Serena hotel Gilgit. Attended by people from different walks of life including ministers, academia, government departments, civil society organization and media. Experts in the programme highlighted the importance of Mountains for life, livelihood and employability and other opportunities in Gilgit-Baltistan – the origin and hub of almost 72 percent of water for Pakistan by its network of glaciers and snow cover.
Honourable Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Chief Minister, Gilgit-Baltistan, grace the occasion as a Chief Guests. During his speech, highlighted the importance of mountain ecosystem of Gilgit-Baltistan as water nurturing area not only GB but for down plain areas of Pakistan. He further added that his government is very seriously tacking actions to reduce pressure from natural environment through various green projects and emphasized on making most out of CPEC project and his government has demanded from federal government that GB needs environment friendly economic zones for GB.
Welcoming the audience, Dr. Babar Khan, Head WWF-Pakistan GB region said that the mountainous constitutes 24 % of the Globe and inhibit 26 % of the world’s population and landscapes of HKH region are the primary watersheds and form 10 main River Systems. He further added that HKH region unique for its 600 living languages, 4 global biodiversity hotspots and more than 450 protected areas are present in HKH mountain region
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Minister Public Works Department, GOGB, highlighted that adaptation strategies are needed for living with changes that are occurring in the mountainous region.
Mr. Shehzad Hassan Shigri, Director Environmental Protection Agency, GoGB highlighted the functions and services of mountain ecosystem and said that mountain is considered barometers with potential for generating the most efficient and economical energy the hydel power generation.
They also highlighted the policies on which Gilgit-Baltistan provincial government is working in collaboration with the line government and non-government organizations for the improvement of local livelihoods.
Mr. Haris Ayub, Representative ICIMOD-Pakistan shared the message of Dr. David Molden, Director General ICIMOD. He added that Gilgit-Baltistan being the home of glacier containing mountains can be considered as the living museum for culture diversity and mountain identity.
An expert panel discussion on themes; Mountain Ecosystem, Function ad Services, Climate change and Human Mountain Interaction, was also organized in which panellist from GB-Wildlife Department, Hashwan Group of Traders, KIU, and AKRSPt talked about Scope, Challenges and Opportunities of Mountain resources in Gilgit-Baltistan and responded to the questions from the participants.
Students from Shining Light Academy, Gilgit presented a cultural dance on local song “Hum Gilgit-Baltistan k Hain”.
In the end, Mr. Muhammad Ejaz, Acting GM, WWF-Pakistan, Serena Hotel Gilgit thanked the audiences for being part of the successful IMD 2016 celebration.
In the end token of appreciation was awarded to Mr. Hassan Sadpara (Late) for his heroic services to highlight importance of Mountains across the world.