Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that climate change is an issue that calls for up-close attention and immediate action.
He was speaking on Wednesday at a discussion titled ‘Education for Climate Action: How Universities Can Steer the Climate Crisis’ organised by the British Council together with Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Islamabad.
“I am glad that international organisations like the British Council are initiating and actively pursuing ways to engage the youth and policy makers on shared platforms to give the cause the push it rightfully deserves in Pakistan,” Shafqat said.
According to the HEC, the higher education sector is enabling the world to understand the impact of climate change on the environment. However, there is still a long way to go before policy and citizen action catch up with the scientific evidence of what is happening to the world’s climate. As the country that is fifth most affected by climate change, there is a need in Pakistan to identify gaps, opportunities, and pave developmental pathways and leadership towards building a greener Pakistan.
With COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) taking place in the UK later this year, the Education for Climate Action roundtable aims to bring together stakeholders, academics, civil society, and development changemakers from Pakistan and the UK to a platform together to discuss where we are, what more needs to be done and what we can learn from each other.
Speaking at the event, HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail said universities could give focused, well informed and well researched information about practices that contributed towards climate change, including manufacturing of bricks or burning of crops.
“Universities have to take charge of informing policy and practice,” she said, adding that 261 Pakistani scholars had been funded to pursue higher education in environmental themes.
British Council Country Director Amir Ramzan said: “I am hopeful that the conversations taking place here will help us learn from each other, and together we can find a path to mainstream sustainable practices in higher education in Pakistan. I am also positive that this seminar will contribute to the national environmental discourse in higher education and HEC’s strategy on taking charge of our sustainable future through academic leadership.”
Other speakers were British High Commission Pakistan Development Director Annabel Gerry, policymakers, government officials, higher education leaders from Pakistan and United Kingdom, vice chancellors, researchers and academics, international development organisations, research partnership grantees, UK alumni, and students. The event was hybrid with attendees joining both online and offline.