Islamabad: Pakistani environmentalists have lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resolve towards solving environmental issues in a country worst hit by climate change and facing deforestation, depletion of freshwater, lack of waste management among other issues.
Pakistan’s green groups have especially appreciated the selection of Malik Amin Aslam as climate change adviser.
Aslam is former chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s Green Growth Initiative and is widely recognised his knowledge and understanding about climate change issues.
Ecologist Mome Saleem said the appointment, as well as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s 100-day plan that focuses on water, raised hopes for the future of agriculture and forest conservation. “More than environmental policies, we require action and implementation and Amin Aslam is a man of action which is evident from the successful completion of ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ project that received global recognition. Moreover he is a learned person with background in environment,” Mome Saleem, programme coordinator Ecology at Heinrich Boll Stiftung Pakistan, told Gulf News.
Environmentalists see Aslam as a champion of climate policy and are hopeful for positive changes under his leadership.
Talking to Gulf News, Afia Salam, a senior environmental journalist, termed Amin Aslam one of the most “knowledgeable persons” and a suitable appointment being the architect of the Billion Tree project.
“Malik Amin Aslam should be given a free hand and provided with the resources and support to tackle the climate change issues” Afia believes.
The new climate change adviser, however, faces a daunting to-do list, from lack of coordination between institutions to non-implementation of climate change policies as well as the preparation for UN climate talks (COP24 summit) to be held in December in Poland.
However his vast experience working as a climate change expert with international organisations should be useful in delivering the policies needed in Pakistan, experts say.
Global conservation organisation WWF also lauded Khan’s pledge to tackle environmental issues in his first address to the nation.
Khan committed to addressing the problems of water scarcity, pollution and solid waste management and announced massive tree planation drives.
Commenting on Khan’s speech, Hammad Naqi Khan, director-general of WWF-Pakistan said it was the right time to take practical steps to address environmental challenges.
“With only two per cent forest cover remaining, the PM’s commitment to start large-scale plantations will help increase tree cover and reduce air pollution.”
He said the organisation is ready to extend its support and expertise to the government to stop the degradation of natural environment.
Meanwhile, in his first meeting, Aslam pledged to boost Pakistan’s climate security by increasing the country’s tree cover, water conservation, and climate-resilient food supplies.
Aslam also vowed to expand KP’s “Billion Tree” programme to all provinces and regions. He said PM Khan was highly committed to taking on environmental issues, including air pollution, climate change and increasing the country’s water conservation and storage, biodiversity loss and unlawful wildlife hunting.
Profile of Malik Amin Aslam
Malik Amin Aslam has two decades of experience as Climate Change expert and has served as the Global Vice President of environment organisation IUCN and the UNDP-Climate Change adviser to Pakistan. He has an MSc from Oxford University in Environmental Management and Finance. He was the chairman of KP’s Green Growth Initiative and the main architect of Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project. He served as a Member of Parliament from 2002-07 and as the Minister of State for Environment from 2004-07.