Prime Minister Imran Khan has called on the world to step up efforts for the restoration of the ecosystem during this decade and urged the rich countries to assist the poor states in bearing the brunt of the former’s colossal carbon emissions.

“Pakistan has minimal contribution in carbon emission. The rich countries responsible for huge carbon emissions have the responsibility to at least provide funds so that the countries like ours may fight global warming and improve our environment. The issue is the resources gap,” he said in his address to the ceremony of World Environment Day hosted by Pakistan on Saturday.

Telecast worldwide, the event featured special messages from Chinese President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Inger Anderson, Minister of State Zartaj Gul, and Special Assistant to the PM Amin Aslam also addressed the ceremony.

The Islamabad Convention Centre was beautifully decorated with a themed green ambiance created by plants and decorations. A large number of forest guards were also present who earned huge applause from the audience as the prime minister acknowledged their efforts in preserving the environment. Ministers, parliamentarians, and diplomats from various countries also attended the function.

Prime Minister Imran said that during the pandemic, Pakistan with a population of 220 million, could scrape up only around $8 billion for relief package while the United States, having 330 million population, provided a package of $4,000 billion to its people.

He reiterated that the resource-rich countries should support the developing countries which were fighting the war of climate change.

He said Pakistan was also making efforts to further reduce its already minimal emissions by switching 30 percent of its all vehicles to electric transmission and would ensure 60 percent of its power generation through renewable resources by 2030.

“It is an honour for Pakistan to host World Environment Day which depicts the recognition of the country’s efforts and its inclusion among few countries concerned for a better environment for next generations,” he added.

The prime minister urged the nation, particularly youth, to take responsibility for the environment-friendly initiatives to play their role in the world’s fight for ecosystem restoration during UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

He said like the developing countries, teachers in Pakistan should create awareness of the importance of trees to inculcate responsibility for environment conservation among the students.

He lamented that Pakistan had been among those countries where the environment was nowhere among governments’ priorities. He recalled that from its inception till the launch of the One Billion Tree Tsunami project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013, the country had planted only 640 million trees.

However, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, after the success of the One Billion Tree Tsunami project, launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project and had planted the first billion of the trees, he said.

He lamented massive deforestation, particularly in Chhanga Manga, Kundian, Chichawatni, and Dipalpur, where the land mafias had occupied the forest land.

He said the United Nations Decade was an opportunity for the world to correct its course by fighting back pollution and ensuring clean water and reduced carbon emissions.

“Apart from measures introduced by Pakistan, some issues needed the world’s attention to reducing carbon emission leading to glacier melting posing threats to countries like Pakistan and Central Asia where rivers were fed by glaciers,” the premier continued.

Prime Minister Imran said the Covid-19 pandemic had made it clear that the world was interdependent with nothing bound by borders. The same was the case with global warming which was equally impacting the world, he added.

The premier apprised the participants of his government’s future initiatives, including Recharge Pakistan — to divert floodwater to the wetland for recharging water table and mangroves forestation which would also absorb carbon besides doing other functions for a healthy environment.

He urged the masses to participate in the projects on the environment to make the people stakeholders by giving them jobs and incentives, just like the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami which had provided 85,000 jobs so far.

He said the government had developed 15 national parks and special guards would be trained for their protection.

CHINESE PRESIDENT: In his message read out by Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, President Xi Jinping said ecosystem restoration was essential to live in harmony with nature. He called for the international community’s role in sustainable development.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Boris Johnson, in his video message, spoke highly of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, saying: “I salute what Prime Minister Imran Khan is doing. I think 10 billion trees is a huge campaign.” He said the Covid-19 pandemic was mother nature’s revenge on humankind which could not maintain balance with nature.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: Antonio Guterres, in his video message, said the world was faced with a triple environmental emergency: biodiversity loss, climate disruption, and escalating pollution.

He said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration would help create millions of new jobs by 2030.

The writer is a member of staff
The reporting desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk

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