by Rizwana Khan
The Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC) was formally launched recently in Islamabad with the raison d’être of highlighting the significance of climate change in Pakistan and influencing informed policy making at the regional, national and subnational levels through research, knowledge –sharing and advocacy. The coalition is legally licensed and is funded by the European Union.
It will serve as a networking platform for civil society organizations, climate experts, academia, researchers, media, private sector and concerned citizens, to exchange ideas, develop synergies and build strategies for effective civil society engagement with policy makers.
The initiative of a new Pakistani civil society coalition was born out of the Lahore pre-COP21 Forum organized in October 2015 with the support of the French Embassy in Islamabad and is aligned with the objectives of the Open Government Partnership which Pakistan joined in November 2016.
Mr. Zahid Hamid, the Federal Minister for Climate Change, chief guest at the launch underlined the need for civil society engagement with regard to policy making, conceptualizing mitigation and adaptation projects and actions. He said their implementation was crucially important in matters related to climate change, since it affects every sector of the economy and every segment of society.
He also highlighted the successes of the government and the Ministry of Climate Change with regard to tackling climate change including ratification of the Paris Agreement, the Climate Change Bill and National Climate Change Authority as well as Policy to name a few.
Ms. Aisha Khan, Executive Director of the CSCCC said on the occasion that the coalition was not about rolling out work plans and agendas, but about developing a consciousness for creating a constant and ongoing positive change towards ourselves and the environment. She said that it was therefore important for us to carry this consciousness with us, back to our homes, our offices, and to share it with our friends and families to achieve a future in which humanity can thrive together with nature on a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous planet.
Mr. Neil Buhne, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said that the UN had launched several programmes all over Pakistan which deal with mitigation and adaptation issues with regards to climate change including the Food and Agricultural Organization’s project on land management, the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) project, and sustainable consumption and production. He highlighted issues such as water management and peri-urbanization as some of the major problems concerning development and described the important role of civil society in achieving them.
Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan described the specialized focus of the World Bank on Climate Change as a priority and focus area and wished the coalition the very best and ensured World Bank support in the development of all future climate-friendly initiatives.
H.E. Mohamed Karmoune, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Pakistan and H.E. Martine Dorance, Ambassador of France appreciated the efforts of the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change in playing a major role in facilitating co-creation of climate-friendly policies and advocacy actions to create synergies and to help implement the Paris Agreement in letter and spirit. H.E. Ambassador Martine Dorance congratulated everyone for the successful launching of the Civil Society Coalition and wished a long life to the CSCCC and the support of the Embassy of France.
H.E. Jean-François Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union who are also the funding organization for the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change said that the European Union and its Member States have been and are still on the forefront in fighting climate change. He said the EU strongly believed that the landmark Paris Agreement can only be fully implemented if there is a strong buy-in by all stakeholders, politicians, policy makers, business and civil society at large, and that it was therefore natural for the EU to support this initiative of the civil society that represents the Pakistan civil society coalition for climate change.
Dr. Tariq Banuri, Professor of City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah, USA and former Director, Division for Sustainable Development/CSD Secretariat , UN described the historic role of the civil society in development and policy making activities. He said that throughout history, the human species were confronted by various challenges including pestilence, famine, diseases, wars and plagues which have wreaked havoc across the human populations but in the last 200 years of the industrial revolution, we have climate change as a new and rapidly increasing threat to our existence by disrupting the water cycles and weather patterns, causing food insecurity, widespread natural disasters, the outbreak of diseases such as dengue, and regional conflicts and migration.
Providing closing remarks, ShafqatKakakhel, Member Board of Directors for CSCCC and former Ambassador and Deputy Executive Director of the UNEP termed the formation of the CSCCC a truly historic achievement for civil society collaboration and engagement across all sectors and all stakeholders and its role in catalyzing climate-friendly actions and policy making. He said that this highly successful event would not have been possible without the untiring efforts of the founding partners of the CSCCC and thanked all participants, the UNDP, the World Bank, the Government of Pakistan and Ministry of Climate Change, the media, academia, private sector and all civil society organizations for making the Event a success.
The CSCCC founding members hosting the event were: Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT), Water Environment Forum (WEF), Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), Pakistan Green Building Council (Pak-GBC), Society for the Conservation and Protection of the Environment (SCOPE), and Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization (MGPO).