“Climate change affects everyone, everywhere, which is why its solutions must also involve everyone, everywhere”
Despite being responsible for less than one percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable nation when it comes to dealing with the after-effects of climate change and its corresponding crises.
Keeping this alarming reality in mind, the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), in collaboration with partners such as Chevron, Dawlance, InfraZamin, Standard Chartered Bank, BASF, Unilever and Nestlé, among others, organised the second Pakistan Climate Conference on November 1, 2023.
Like its first iteration in 2022, the conference brought together global and local climate change experts, business leaders, policymakers and social activists who addressed the rising urgency of the climate crisis in Pakistan in order to come up with solutions that can effectively mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in Pakistan.
The OICCI’s main objectives in organising the conference, stated Amir Paracha, President, OICCI, were “to galvanise our industry leaders and policymakers to stop talking and start acting, now. We have no time to waste – at this point, only cumulative and collective action will be effective in dealing with the crises that climate change has brought to Pakistan’s doorstep.”
Sidra Iqbal, conference curator, also stated that the conference aimed to serve as a platform which would “bring into cognisance the need for all involved stakeholders to work in tandem, or Pakistan’s climate crisis would continue to devastate the country and its people.”
Andrew Bailey, Co-Chair, OICCI and MD, BASF, emphasised that addressing climate change required leaders on both the local and global stages to work together in order to achieve results. In the same vein, Ahmed Shabbar, Founder and CEO, GarbageCAN, during another session, stressed the importance of climate education and allyship that stretches and covers Pakistan’s various economic sectors, public domains, and social strata, arguing that climate change affects everyone, everywhere, which is why, its solutions must also involve “everyone, everywhere.”
Another prominent thread running throughout the conference was the need to come up with long-term planning and policies which will tackle Pakistan’s climate change crisis in a sustained manner. Ambareen Thompson, CEO, SINA Health, Education, & Welfare Trust, talked about the economic and political upheaval the country regularly faces, stating that our policymakers must have long-term governance and aid plans laid out in order to efficiently address the effects of Pakistan’s climate crisis. Similarly, architect and researcher Marvi Mazhar spoke about how imperative it is for Pakistan’s public and private sectors to invest right now in infrastructure and aid efforts that are concretely planned out well in advance, instead of the country’s usual modus operandi of working reactively in a state of hyper-emergency when crises arise.
Muhammad Ali, Pakistan’s Minister of Energy, reiterated the need for a unified climate action plan for Pakistan: “Not only do we need to realise the urgency of our climate vulnerability, but the government, together with both local and global stakeholders, must also work on a three-tiered action plan to deal with climate change, by creating awareness, drafting policy, and executing said policy.”
Farhana Imtiaz, Founder and CEO of EcoClickk Integrated Solutions, a green technology start-up, was part of the audience and said that the conference was well-organised and a much-needed platform that brought together people who wanted to “take essential steps to lessen the impact of Pakistan’s climate crisis.”
Another attendee, Yusra Humayun, Internal Communications and Sustainability Specialist, National Foods Limited, appreciated the OICCI’s initiative in organising the conference, stating that such events are imperative in order to let businesses know that their customers are constantly checking to see what they are doing to mitigate their own impact on the environment, as well as how they are countering the challenges climate change poses in Pakistan.
The energy at the conference was urgent, goal-oriented and collaborative, with its organisers and speakers appearing well-informed and approachable. However, while the turnout was good, it meant that a number of the audience members had to attend part of the conference virtually from an adjoining room, despite being present at the venue. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to hear the conversations that took place there, as they emphasised a commitment towards addressing Pakistan’s climate crisis in an effective manner.