Islamabad : On 2nd June 2021, Online Roundtable Discussion on “Climate Change as Non-Traditional Security Challenge: Relevance for Pakistan” was held. It was jointly organized by Center for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad and Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan.
Shakeel Ramay Advisor, Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development, Consultant SDPI & Member board of Advisors, CGSS, commenced the session with opening remarks.
Dr. Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Pakistan gave the welcome remarks. He welcomed all the participants and distinguished panelists. Dr. Kudella highlighted that on 5th June 2021, Pakistan is hosting the international Environment Day. Last year this day was hosted by Germany and Colombia. Dr. Kudella said that it is important for Pakistan to raise awareness on climate change and mitigate its negative impacts. He stated that climate change is both, the rise of the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and also large-scale weather shifts. It is one of the most threating situations for Pakistan. These non-traditional security challenges are non-military in nature, but risks to the survival and well-being of people. Dr. Kudella stated that the rising temperatures are leading to the melting of glaciers in Pakistan. Moreover, they lead to a degradation of ecosystems, impact biodiversity, and cause desertification and flooding, which in turn can cause serious problems such as mass migration, starvation or poverty. He emphasized on the importance of holding these roundtables to address critical issues.
Ms. Romina Khurshid Alam, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and Former Secretary of Climate Change Ministry stated that climate change is a subject on which we all need to work cohesively. She said that pollution has also increased in this pandemic and explained that Pakistan has the Climate Committee and is working to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. She suggested that in this regard think tanks can play an important role in policy orientation process and Government should implement the devised policies.
Dr. Rashid Aftab, Director of Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah International University stated that the outcomes of climate change are devastating as Pakistan is among the top ten most effected countries. This has led to water insecurity. Dr. Rashid explained that climate change can lead to a number of challenges. One is the scarcity of water. Second, water availability will become erratic and put strains on population. Third, this situation will result in higher evaporation rate and raise demand of water. Dr. Rashid said that if these factors are likely to continue, it will increase frequency of droughts. While concluding, Dr. Rashid suggested that the government should devise policies which can be practically implemented.
Dr. Yusuf Zaraf, TI, Former Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) explained the relevance of climate change with agriculture sector. He stated that Pakistan energy consumption is low and it is not contributing much to GHG. He said that there are so many plans like agriculture emergency plans. He suggested that if we want our national food security, we should properly opt practical solutions. Dr. Yusuf discussed that Pakistan is facing certain issues related to food security this year which is alarming as our productivity is low. He suggested that isolated actions should not be beneficial, therefore the government should revisit the plan under climate change scenario and incorporate technological advancement in agriculture sector to enhance productivity.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Irfan Khan, Dean, Faculty of Basic and Applied Sciences, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) shared his views on environment security and human security. He stated that environment security in terms of water, food and energy is considered an important aspect of national security. Therefore, the nexus builds important links between environment and national security. Dr. Khan stated that the link is reshaping the contemporary political discourse as it has been impacting the national security. Dr. Irfan said that this changing discourse is to translate contemporary security concerns and broaden the national security agenda that should include climate security. Mr. Tariq stated that now, environment security concerns have been incorporated into the foreign policy agenda. While concluding, Dr. Irfan suggested that there is need of environment policies among the provinces and also SARRC countries to develop environment security and peace which are imperative to achieve sustainable development.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan, Member Board of Experts, CGSS discussed that the NTS challenges transcend the national boundaries as they are transnational in character. They have sudden unexpected appearances. Dr. Irfan said that human security is endangered in South Asia because of regional sensitivity to climate change. Prof. Irfan stated that as far as climate change is concerned, it has been impacting the humanity. Every country has a strategic linkage and effective policy making to mitigate negative impacts of climate change that need to be explored. Climate change has adverse effect. Therefore, mitigation could not be successful until or unless there is cooperation among all sectors. Dr. Irfan stated that water security, agriculture and availability of clean drinking water are the key concerning areas. While concluding his speech, Dr. Irfan suggested that we have to preserve water resources and not disturb the natural cycles. He stated that the sooner we realize preserving water sources, it would be significant for Pakistan and the next generation.
Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Professor at the Department of International Relations, National Defense University, Islamabad stated that we need to looked between environment change and national security. She stated that climate change is an emerging threat to national security. Dr. Shaheen explained the link of these two concepts while highlighting the proponents (international scholars) such as Barry Buzan and Robert Kalpan, who introduced the two concept as interlinked. She highlighted that the rising temperature will increase irregular rainfall patterns and precipitation level. She discussed that this situation will lead towards food and water insecurity as they are interlinked. While conducing her discussion, Ms. Akhtar suggested that there has to be sectoral approaches. If there is no preparedness to mitigate these challenges, there would be huge repercussions. She stated that disaster-risk reduction plan and preparedness is important with the involvement of all stakeholders to mitigate the repercussion imposed by climate change.
Dr. Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal, Lead Researcher of the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) elaborated that the global community has consensus that climate change has emerged as the issue of national security and human security. Dr. Kanwar stated that ocean base economy is more vulnerable to climate change as sea level is rising. He also raised points on Pakistan’s drought situation that the Sindh province is highly affected by the droughts, increasing vulnerability to its huge population. He stated that the drought condition has impacted the Melon crops. While concluding, Dr. Kanwar suggested that there is a need to have a national policy on environment plan. He also suggested active engagement and safe participation between multiple think tanks and relevant stakeholders.
Dr. Sarah Amir, Department of Environmental Sciences, International Islamic University stated that the climate change and its impacts is the pressing issue. She discussed that a lot of jargons have been introduced in the last decade like climate smart agriculture or non-traditional security threats and that climate change is not a myth but reality. She suggested that we cannot delay implementing climate change related policies.
Munir Ahmed, Executive Director of DEVCOM, Pakistan stated that we need to have specific researches. There has been no significant agenda of the working climate committees. Climate change is the biggest threat. It affects everyone. Therefore, non-traditional security threats should not be handled by traditional method. Mr. Munir stated that there is a need to educate people in each constituency. He also suggested that the funds that are being given by certain organization and NGOs and how, in this regard, the role of civil society is significant.
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, founding CEO & National Program Director of LEAD Pakistan, and CDKN’s Regional Director for Asia raised certain significant aspects. He stated that the response to non-traditional security threats should be non-traditional in nature. NTS need not be totally domestic or interstates as they are over lapped. Mr. Ali stated that many issues that are domestic also become regional or international. He gave examples of climate-related transboundary issues i.e., cyclones and tsunamis, air pollution, smog, migration and refuges, pandemic and epidemics. While suggesting, Mr. Ali stated that NTS need not be a zero-sum game. By adopting effective policies, it can be a win-win situation if common grounds are crafted to work together. Mr. Ali discussed that NTS can be process oriented. Therefore, NTS need intelligence with engagement of knowledge economy.
Brig Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd), Chairman Gomal Daman Area Water Partnership Pakistan stated that we need effective strategies to beat climate change. Therefore, Pakistan should undertake reforms plans like the KP government. Dr. Aslam also suggested that there should be effective water management program along with protection and restoration of ecosystem. Dr. Aslam highlighted the role of youth in building awareness. While concluding, he stated that government alone cannot do anything on its own and that community efforts are required.
Dr. Hassan Abbas, Chairman Forte, Integrated Water Resources Management stated that we should not forget that a lot of products which we are using are imported materials. Therefore, we have to do careful consideration to our consumption related to industrial GHG emissions. He emphasized that water is the most impacted element by the climate change. He explained that we have developed infrastructure to modify our natural flow regime. Dr. Hassan recommended that before focusing on one type of solution like the old-mind set of diverting rivers, we should move toward alternatives to manage water. Therefore, climate change should be discussed widely in parallel to invest in same amount of investment in developing the alternatives.
Faizan ul Hassan, Director, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) discussed that the challenges are due to climate change. In this regard, there are some questions we need to answer related to climate change its vulnerability and mitigation. Mr. Faizan stated that the Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index 2021 has placed Pakistan among top 20 most vulnerable countries. He explained that climate vulnerability has been ignored. Therefore, there is a need to generate awareness among people regarding the issue of climate change.
Dr. Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation Pakistan presented concluding remarks. He stated that Pakistan is vulnerable to climate change and suggested to respond to these effects is a responsible manner, collectively.
The Online Roundtable was moderated by Shakeel Ramay, Advisor, Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development, Consultant SDPI & Member Board of Advisors, CGSS. A total number of 80 participants from all across Pakistan attended the online roundtable discussion and was also viewed live on various social media platforms.