Development planning now needs to consider climate risk for vulnerable countries: Pakistan

UNITED NATIONS: A senior Pakistani diplomat told a U.N. panel on Wednesday that development planning now requires to take into account the climate risk for the most climate-vulnerable countries, such as Pakistan, which was hit by devastating floods last August.

Participating in a discussion at the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), the principal global platform for policy dialogue on development cooperation, Ambassador Munir Akram said with the evolution of global warming and climate change, the concept of development itself has changed, with focus now required not only on the fundamentals of economic growth, but also on countries’ resilience to climate shocks.

Pointing out that in response to the massive flooding in Pakistan, Ambassador Akram said the government developed a reconstruction plan determining that approximately $16.5 billion was needed to repair lost infrastructure, homes and agricultural land. But when taking into account how to rebuild in such a way to withstand similar phenomena in the future, an additional $13.5 billion was required.

While this illustrates that building development with resilience is going to be more costly, the silver lining is that adaptation — in most cases — implies sustainable infrastructure, which is a core aspect of development, the Pakistani envoy said.

"And that is where we need to merge the concepts of economic development and climate resilience," he added.

On where to get the money to finance sustainable infrastructure, Ambassador Akram warned against the “dangerously false” assumption that such resources will come from the private sector, as infrastructure projects require long-term financing with no prospect of commercial return. Therefore, he said, some element of public financing was required.

Donor countries should not use the pretext of the Ukraine war and fulfill the commitments they made to help developing countries fight the adverse impacts of climate change, he said.

Ambassador Akram added that the United Nations and its country offices can play a considerable role in helping countries prepare projects and plans to attract financing from international sources.