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Sindh Cabinet to approve Climate Change Policy soon: Minister Rahoo

Karachi, May 24, 2022: Sindh Minister for Environment and Climate Change Mr. Ismail Rahoo has underlined the need for creating awareness among the general public about the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate its effects. He said the provincial government has finalized the Sindh Climate Change Policy, which is being vetted by the law department and then the provincial Cabinet would approve it soon.

He was talking to a delegation of environmental activists and civil society led by Ms. Zeenia Shaukat, Director of The Knowledge Forum and others at his office here on Tuesday. Senior journalist Tahir Hassan Khan, Ms. Nagham Iqtidar and Shujauddin Qureshi of the TKF, Mr. Zahid Farooque of Urban Resource Centre and Mr. Yasir Husain, Founder, Green Pakistan Coalition were also included in the delegation.

Mr. Rahoo said due to is the geographic position of the tail-end of the River Indus, Sindh is suffering a shortage of water. An awareness campaign is launched to educate people about changes in weather patterns due to Climate Change.

He said water flow in the River Indus has declined over the years due to Climate Change. Its flow further reduces in downstream Sukkur barrage as due to wide bed of the river in the middle of Sindh’s areas, the river water is wasted and evaporated and when it reaches at Kotri barrage, its flow is negligible. Downstream Kotri barrage districts especially Indus Delta areas suffer dryness for most of the year.

The United Nations team had recently visited the Indus Delta areas and they informed the provincial government that the international body plans to initiate a project to save the Indus Delta area.

Mr. Rahoo said Sindh Climate Change Policy has been devised after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders including industries, civil society and climate change activists.

The civil society activists informed the minister that The Knowledge Forum, in collaboration with the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) had organised a consultation to discuss Sindh’s Climate Change Policy and Implementation Framework on April 15, 2022, at the NCHR office in Karachi.

The consultation was attended among others by officials of the Climate Change Department, Energy Department, civil society and climate activists.

Ms. Zeenia Shaukat informed the minister that a set of recommendations has been compiled after the consultation, which can be incorporated into the forthcoming Policy, approved by the Cabinet.

She mentioned the participants of the consultation had critically identified a lack of action on the part of SEPA with regard to the revision of air quality standards and publishing data on the environment every year. Given that SEPA has not done its job, the policy should suggest a mechanism that may ensure that SEPA delivers on its mandate.

There is no mention of the role of the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) in the Sindh Climate Change Policy. Only Deputy Commissioner’s office has been identified. This is in line with the current provincial government’s practice of relegating all disaster-related responsibilities to the deputy commissioner system. Given the importance of the district disaster management authority that specialises in disaster response, a clear mention in the policy would help promote the significance of well-established specialised institutions at the district level.

The policy needs to review the existing practices and their failures. For example, there is a need to reconsider the viability of relying on self-reporting on Social Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Assessment by industries. The industries comply with this obligation by using the services of hired consultants whose credibility and transparency are doubted since they are being paid by the industry. There is a strong need to develop governmental capacity along with local CSO/NGO participation and the involvement of the local community so that there is a more responsible and accountable structure to cover impact assessment.

The policy suggests a disoriented approach toward the community. It blames indigenous communities for the shrinking mass of rangelands, forests, and mangroves while making no mention of the role of the timber mafia, industrialization, and commercialization in the depletion of natural resources. Targetting economically deprived communities for creating conditions of climate change not only signals an unjust approach, but it also suggests the policy-makers lopsided view of the causes behind climate change and deliberate avoidance of the acknowledgement of powerful actors and institutions responsible for environmental degradation in the province. The policy emphasizes ensuring and securing the interests of vulnerable groups. However, a consultative plan in this regard has not been spelt out.

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