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Pakistan kicks off strategy for sustainable development

Aug 05, 2013

The ambitious tech-driven agenda may help the country ward off natural disasters and move to a path of sustainable growth.

The Pakistan government has flagged off a new "green agenda" under its just released national sustainable development strategy (NSDS), which includes a knowledge management system based on science, technology and innovation.

Jawed Malik, secretary at Pakistan's newly formed ministry of climate change, said that the strategy is expected to help steer the country – hit by two devastating floods, three cyclones and an earthquake since 1999 -towards sustainable economic growth.

"Collectively leveraging knowledge and innovation would certainly deliver results for future sustainability," the strategy paper says. The knowledge management system proposed in the strategy document will "support key economic, environmental and social goals through academic research and foster solution-driven innovation for policy, information gathering, and technology development."

Though details are still being penciled in the strategy, which is in line with the UN millennium development goals, is expected to be supported by donors across public and private sectors. Hobbled by a range of inefficiencies in the agriculture, energy and water sectors, Pakistan's economic growth has been limping ahead at 2.6 per cent over the past three years.

"Pakistan is at the apex of climate vulnerability in Asia," Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, chief executive officer of the non-government organisation, Leadership for Environment and Development, said

The estimated cost of adapting to future climate impacts is US$14 billion each year for the next 40 years, according to the NSDS document.

"Most of Pakistan's landmass is vulnerable to extreme events and they will need investments in adaptive capacity," Anjum Assad Amin, member of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority, said. Disaster vulnerability along the Indus river is high, while the country's drought zone extends from Baluchistan to the Thar desert.

"There is an inescapable linkage between climate impacts and sustaining future development in the country," the strategy document notes. The country's chief climate change goals include disaster risk reduction and management; vulnerability mapping; community-based adaptation; sustainable land management and building climate resilient infrastructure.

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