GILGIT, April 9: Climate change is considered to be one of the biggest development challenges of recent times. People across the globe are getting affected due to extreme weather patterns, temperature change, melting of glaciers, increase in climate induced disasters and outbreak of diseases. Some parts of the world are also faced with food insecurity due to water scarcity and depletion of natural resources.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan and Karakorum International University, Gilgit, jointly organized a two-day long conference on “Climate Change Adaptation” on 8-9th April, 2014. The Royal Norwegian Embassy has funded FOCUS Pakistan to implement a project on “Harnessing capacities in Disaster Risk Reduction in hazardous mountain areas of Pakistan”. Along with other community level activities this project entitles to organize conferences on climate change adaptation. So this two days conference is one of these. The Conference aimed to: Explore the science of climate change in order to have a shared understanding of the issue, Discuss best practices in climate change adaptation at community and institutional levels, and to advocate inclusion of Climate Change Adaptation as a core component of future development.
Leading academicians and practitioners from the national and international horizon shared their knowledge, experiences and suggest ways for protecting lives and properties of the mountain communities, in particular, and the global community, in general. Offering welcome and opening remarks, Ms. Khadija Jamal Shaban, Chairperson, FOCUS stated that” impact of Climate Change is far wider and deeper than that being discussed. It impacts every sector and therefore a strong national policy to guide the climate change adaptation is very critical. It is not only about rising or falling temperature, rainfall but the havoc it plays in the lives of the people and can devastate and impoverish nations. Pakistan is along with Haiti and Philippine which are among disaster risk countries. And more than 500 million people died during (1993 -2000) which is an eye opening theme for everyone.
For last 12 years, FOCUS Pakistan is working on Disaster Risk Reduction side by side disaster response and disaster preparedness as Climate Change affects our programme areas immensely. Disaster Risk Management is a provincial subject now and we need to collectively work for climate change legislation. KIU and FOCUS has a close working relation in past as FOCUS have involved KIU student in assessment Glaciers, sometime in different trainings etc and we hope it will continue in future will full zeal and zest.
Addressing the audience, Dr.Najma Najam, Vice Chancellor, KIU, elaborated the importance of climate change and it impacts on the mountainous areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. She further said that this remains a priority Areas for KIU to address in the future. She said,” the Department of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences have already taken the issue and being organizing knowledge sharing forums such as today’s conference to orient people with the subject. She remarked FOCUS as brilliant organization, which every time beleievs in team work and humanity.
Sadia Danish, Minister Information, youth and Culture affairs honored the conference as a chief guest on 1st day of the conference. Speaking to the conference, she mentioned that Gilgit –Baltistan is among those mountainous areas which are prone to hazards and climate change is one of the factors to it. As FOCUS is expert in disaster assessment so it knows the sensitivity of the area. So there is need to work for to avoid such events through involvement of the Government. Through this conference I want to pay tribute to the shaheeds of Giyari Glacier of 2012. The students are our future and providing them with such conferences is very potential for them. Again, if FOCUS and Govt. work collectively they will be able to develop a strong policy as they did for School Safety at GB. The efforts of FOCUS and KIU are remarkable for arranging this conference.
Pir Karam Ali Shah, Governor GB, honored the 2nd day of conference as a chief guest. In his speech he said that: Human are composed of fire, sand, water and food but all these are now hazardous for human due to their own mistakes like deforestation. Gilgit-Baltistan is blessed with beauty and natural resources, whereas issues like climate change are affecting the area and lives of people like decrease of temperature in winters, heavy rains, floods and landslides. To restore the beauty, have control on the issue effecting lives, we need to work collectively and also need to find the solution within available resources through Climate change adaptation and mitigations activities. We will be able to implement all these goals and declaration of conference only when we are alive of the threats to the life. The efforts of KIU and FOCUS are remarkable to make people attentive on the issue of climate change.
Researchers, Scholars and student of KIU, Earth Sciences Department, presented their papers and multimedia presentations on: Paleoclimate impact of Climate Change on biodiversity, the Glaciotectonics process impact on glacier dynamics and hydrology, Mapping of Cryolithology in accordance GLOF, permafrost and hydrology ,Climate Change impact on the life of local people in mountain areas, Climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Sayed Ahsan Ali Bukhari, research engineer, PMD, shared that temperature is increasing at a rate of 0.85 as a result glaciers is melting and because of less greenhouse gases earth is warming. These all influence climate change which become than a threat to the area. Global Climate Risk Index (1993-2012) ranked Pakistan 12th country most affected by extreme weather events. According to the Annual mean precipitation (MM) for Gilgit Baltistan, 1901-2011, has shown a trend of 182.3
In his presentation, Sultan Ishaq/research assistant of a project at KIU, suggested for a detailed research as well as merging biological study with climate change which than be a part of curriculum at different institutions. In her concluding remarks, Nusrat Nasab, Executive officer, FOCUS Pakistan, shared that GB is vulnerable at one side while its total dependency is on natural resources on the other side. It is causing poverty and initiate many other issues, “I say : GB is a house of hazards and with limited capacities it is hard to deal with them”. The most challenge is the poor people who are facing it. So there is need of collective efforts to deal this issue and theme of climate change. And for these conference efforts of department of Earth sciences, KIU are appreciated.
The conference concluded with declaration of 11 points. Few of these are as follow: 1. There is genuine need to promote research on climate change and related issues at all levels ad especially at Karakoram International University. 2. The National policy on climate change should be adopted at GB level with permission of appropriate legislation and implementation framework. 3. Encourage local and national media to initiate programs for awareness rising and sensitization about climate change and its effects on communities living in disaster prone areas.