To commemorate World Water and Forest Day, Pir Mehar Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) in collaboration with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Office in the Ministry of Climate Change organized a seminar on March 21, 2017 at main campus.
Federal Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif was the chief guest while former Wapda chairman Dr Shamsul-Mulk, Vice Chancellor of the PMAS-AAUR Professor Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Gill from SACAN, Forests Inspector General Syed Mehmood Nasir, SDPI’s Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Ex Secretary Water and Power Ashfaq Ahmad, PMAS-AAUR Dean Faculty of Agricultural Engineering Dr Yaseen Bhatti and Dean Faculty of Forestry Dr Maqsood Anwar were also among the speakers.
Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, the secretary for Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), said that Pakistan was among the few countries in the world which had passed legislation to respond to challenges posed by climate change. He added that in this regard, two new bodies would be constituted at the federal level shortly, including the Climate Change Council and the Climate Change Authority. Akif further said the government had increased the budget from Rs 27 million to Rs2 billion under Green Pakistan initiative and under this initiative 100 million trees would be planted across the country with the help of all provincial governments. Akif emphasized that conserving water and forests was an obligation for every individual. We must find ways how we draw benefit from the sustainable use of water, he said.
Former Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) chairman Eng. Shamasul Malik said that, as a nation, we need to ask why we were draining the bulk of our water supply into the sea without drawing benefits from it. Unfortunately, he said, we were using our natural assets such as water and forests while remaining oblivious to the challenges which further generations would face. He was of the view “Pakistan’s rulers should take up concrete projects for the country. Students and civil society will have to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus, as larger water reservoirs will benefit every Pakistani,” he added.
PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad presented an overview of the water and forest landscape in Pakistan. He said that by enhancing forests, the country could also respond to its water scarcity in the country. He informed the gathering that the university had become a role model for federal and provincial governments’ institutions in the field of rain water harvesting system. He said that water is key element for socio-economic development of country. He also emphasized on the conservation of water from household to farm level.
Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gill said water is a key to socio-economic development of a country and emphasized the need for conserving it. He said in 1947 Pakistan’s water capacity per person was 5,600 cubic which has now reduced to only 900 cubic per person and country is heading towards water stress country. He stressed to start literacy programmes focusing attention on importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of water resources.
Forests Inspector General Syed Mehmood Nasir stressed the need for introducing new technology and research for the efficient use of natural resources. He said that technology could help benefit from forests without chopping down a single tree.
SDPI’s Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that keeping in view new challenges posed by climate change, we need to pay attention to water conservation in a way which not only responds to water shortage but also protects vulnerable communities from disasters such as floods. He added that with the right planning, climate change can be stopped from turning into a human disaster.
In addition to a large number of the students from different departments of the university, senior academicians, faculty members and representatives from civil society organizations also attended the seminar.