Covid-19 signifies threats posed by Climate Change: Amin Aslam

Zubair Qureshi

Special Adviser to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, has said that Covid-19 has posed numerous challenges, however, it has created an opportunity for Pakistan to respond to threats emanating from climate change.

In the time of pandemic, Pakistan has initiated green stimulus programme which is focused on green employment and saving of the nature.

He said this during his keynote address at the roundtable webinar ‘Debt swaps for green recovery: opportunities, challenges and way forward for Pakistan’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

“As the country is inclined towards clean green initiatives, this government is focusing on financing this transition through various mechanisms,” Aslam explained further that the first step in this regard was restructuring of ADB financing.

The initiative is focused on green employment whereas the Eco-system restoration fund in which $ 120 Million from World Bank is being utilized for eco-system restoration.

Besides, the objective is to be achieved through creation of estimated 100,000 green jobs based on these activities.

He said the government was also focusing on ‘Debt for Nature’ Swap and Green Euro bond worth $ 500 million for hydropower projects.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, was of the view that in current scenario, it is not only Pakistan but the countries across the globe are facing financial constraints and it has limited their window and fiscal availability for investment in green development.

“Swapping our debt for nature, biodiversity, green and clean projects, could be a useful source for taking care of Covid-19 recoveries and social safety,” Dr Suleri while highlighting some of the initiatives taken by government for debt swaps.

Samar Ihsan, Senior Joint Secretary, EAD, highlighted that in the past, Pakistan has debt rescheduling under different agreement.

For instance, she said, Canada swapped 447 million Canadian dollars for quality of education, Germany swapped 50 million euros for education, and Italy swapped 85 million dollar-50% of which was for Afghan refugees and 50% for health and education.

The government has been striving to explore the potential areas for biodiversity, she added.

Sobiah Becker, Climate Change Adviser, FCDO, explained that how upcoming opportunities can be utilized for debt swaps in COP-26 as well.