PM Shehbaz presents Pakistan’s $16.3 billion funding request at international climate conference in Geneva

Shehbaz Geneva conference

Geneva: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday put forward Pakistan’s “comprehensive” $16.3 billion post-disaster funding request at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva.

Pakistan, along with the United Nations, is hosting a day-long climate conference in the Swiss city that has been convened to marshal international support for Pakistan to build back better after the recent devastating floods as the country is transitioning from the “rescue-and-relief” phase towards the monumental task of “recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction”.

Officials from some 40 countries as well as private donors and international financial institutions gathered for a meeting in Geneva as Islamabad seeks support in what is expected to be a major test case for who pays for climate disasters.

A UN statement read that the conference has two objectives: 1. To present the “Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework (4RF)”, 2. To secure international support and forge long-term partnerships for building Pakistan’s climate resilience and adaptation.

‘World stands at turning point of history’: PM Shehbaz

In his opening address at the conference, PM Shehbaz said that the world was standing at a “turning point of history” today.

“It’s not only a question of how to survive but its a question [of] how to maintain our bodies. It’s a question of how to maintain our dignity and honour — by moving forward with a sense of purpose and a sense of achievement.”

Presenting the 4RF, PM Shehbaz called for a sustained international plan to meet the daunting task of reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood-affected areas and build a climate-resilient Pakistan.

According to the framework, the country will need $16.3 billion for rebuilding. PM Shehbaz highlighted that Pakistan needs $8 billion in this regard from its international partners over the next three years, while the government expects to be able to cover the rest.

He noted that Pakistan witnessed a “monsoon on steroids this year” that affected 30 million people, displaced more than 8 million people and washed away roads spread over 8,000 kilometres.

“One can go on and on but to truly say, we are racing against time. We are thankful for the support extended to us by the Asian Development Bank, UN, International Monetary Fund and several other international organisations.”

Similarly, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for “massive investments” to help Pakistan recover from last year’s devastating floods, saying the country was “doubly victimized” by climate change and a “morally bankrupt global financial system”.

“No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan,” he said while expressing solidarity with the people of Pakistan.

“Despite enduring problems, the giving spirit of Pakistani people has shown brightly,” he said. “My heart broke when I saw active firsthand the devastation caused by floods.”

France pledges $10m in aid

French President Emmanuel Macron, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen also addressed the conference via video links.

In his video message, Emmanuel Macron vowed to bring in a contribution of $10m for aid support to Pakistan.

He said that Paris was ready to support Pakistan in its talks with financial institutions, as the country faces huge losses from recent floods.

France will continue to provide expertise and some financial support to the country, he said.

Pakistan floods

The devastating floods in 2022 were Pakistan’s worst disaster in decades, which left one-third of the country submerged, about 15,000 dead or injured, and 8 million displaced. Over 2 million homes, 13,000 km of highways, 439 bridges, and more than 4 million acres of agricultural land were destroyed or damaged. 

According to UN estimates, 9 million more people could be forced into poverty as a direct consequence of these floods.

“With help from the United Nations, the generosity of donors and partners, and the heroic response of its people, the Government of Pakistan has been able to respond to this unprecedented climate catastrophe,” the UN statement read.

It provided $245 million in cash support to 2.2 million households and, with the help of international agencies, has distributed hundreds of thousands of tents, food, water, and medicines to the destitute and the displaced.

However, the enormous challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation still lies ahead. 

According to the UN, Pakistan has prepared a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which estimates flood damages to exceed $14.9 billion, economic losses over $15.2 billion, and reconstruction needs over $16.3 billion.

The PDNA has identified core priorities that include the revival of livelihoods and agriculture, the rebuilding of private housing, and the reconstruction of public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals.