The federal government has introduced a ‘green stimulus and green recovery process’ to revive economy and ensure that economic activities in the post-Covid-19 lockdown scenario do not harm nature.
This was stated by adviser to prime minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam during an online roundtable discussion hosted on Saturday by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to mark World Environment Day.
“The government has introduced the green stimulus package during the lockdown to improve green cover across the country. The 10 billion Tree Tsunami project has been utilised to employ 65,000 people, most of them had lost their jobs in urban areas of the country and had returned to their native rural localities during the lockdown,” he said.
These jobs were mostly related to nurseries established to promote greenery and to check wildfires in forest areas during peak summer, he added.
He said Pakistan had become the first nation in the world to repurpose World Bank funds available to it to revive lost wild habitats in the post-Covid-19 situation.
The World Bank, he pointed out, had allowed repurposing of $180 million of its funding for nature conservation in Pakistan while recognising the ‘green recovery process’ of the country during the pandemic.
“The Clean, Green Pakistan initiative of the present government is being implemented in 20 cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There is also a plan to launch a project to conserve the protected natural areas and national parks across the country,” he said, adding that pandemics like Covid-19 did occur when humans encroached upon wild habitats.
FPCCI president Mian Anjum Nisar underscored the need for understanding the crucial link between slow economic growth and environmental degradation and said the latter was responsible for country’s weak financial position and growing poverty.
“An exponential increase in population and lack of a policy to constructively employ youth has also contributed to destruction of forests and natural reserves in the country,” he said, adding that Pakistan should try to claim carbon credits as being done by its neighbouring countries.
Speaking on the enforcement of environmental rules and regulations, Farzana Altaf, director general of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, said that the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act-1997 envisaged imprisonment up to two years for anyone causing harm to environment. Unfortunately, such harsh measures against environmental degradation were seldom taken.