Pakistan to host UN’s World Environment Day 2021, says SAPM

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Climate Change (SAPM) Malik Amin Aslam announced on Monday that Pakistan would host globally celebrated the World Environment Day 2021 this year in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Pakistan has been selected as a host country for hosting the world environment day in recognition of demonstrating global leadership in environmental conservation and protection through various policies and programmes being implemented in the country, said the PM’s aide in a press statement issued here.

Malik Amin emphasised, “Its really heartening to see how the world is recognising Pakistan’s leadership in environment, climate change arenas and efforts launched for sustainable development, environmental conservation and climate resilience through various initiatives including Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan Programme, Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP), Protected Areas Initiatives, Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags, Recharge Programme, Urban Resilient Human Settlement Project.”

Marked every year on June 5, This year the global environment day will celebrated under the theme of ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ with heightened focus on resetting relation with nature and promotion of initiatives for nature-based solutions.

It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world.

The observance of the environment day will coincide with the marking of the formal launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 – 2030.

The UN decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Making the announcement on the margins of the virtual 5th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) held on February 22 in Nairboi, Kenya, Malik Amin Aslam also joined the UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen to acknowledge the urgency of preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, Climate change Ministry’s media spokesperson Muhammad Saleem told media.

The official said further that Malik Amin Aslam also informed the UNEA session that the incumbent government, under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for Clean Green and climate-resilient Pakistan, planed to expand and restore the country’s forests through a ’10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ spread over 5 years.

The Initiative includes efforts for restoring mangroves and forests as well as planting trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks and green belts.

Malik Amin Aslam also informed the UNEA session participants during his address that Pakistan had launched Eco-System Restoration Fund for supporting nature based solution to climate change, facilitating transition towards environmentally resilient ecologically targeted initiatives covering afforestation, biodiversity conservation, enabling and enhancing.

Recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan has launched “Protected Area Initiative” to develop 15 model Protected Areas across country to conserve over 7300. Sq km of land area as well as Green Stimulus with creation of over 5,500 green jobs, the PM’s aide added.

“The Government of Pakistan is fully committed to playing a leadership role in addressing the issue of climate change, including through the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” initiative, which will restore and enhance over 1 million hectares of forest across the country,” said Malik Amin Aslam, Adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister and Minister of Climate Change. “We are honoured to host this year’s World Environment Day and lend our support to global restoration efforts,” said Malik Amin Aslam.

Meanwhile, he said further that as host of the World Environment Day this year, Pakistan would highlight environmental issues and showcase the country’s own initiatives and its role in global efforts.

The day is set to be celebrated across the world through various events and activities, in line with latest COVID 19 regulations.

The year 2020 was a year of reckoning, facing multiple crises, including a global pandemic and the continued crises of climate, nature and pollution,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP while addressing the UNEA session.

She highlighted, “In 2021, we must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing: and in so doing, we must recognize that the restoration of nature is imperative to the survival of our planet and the human race.”

“Pakistan has shown real leadership in efforts to restore the country’s forests; we are grateful for their commitment to host World Environment Day 2021 and lead the charge for all nations to restore our damaged ecosystems through the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,” she recognised.

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis, prevent the loss of a million species and enhance food security water supply and livelihoods.

According the Malik Amin Aslam, reviving natural carbon sinks – such as forests and peatlands – could help close the climate emissions gap by 25 percent by 2030. Replanting with native tree species can also help buffer some of the expected devastating effects of a warming planet, such as increased risk of forest fires. Currently, 3.2 billion people – 40 percent of the world’s population- suffer from the continued degradation of ecosystems, for example by losing access to fertile soil or safe drinking water.

To achieve restoration at the required scale, incentives and financial investments should be made in changing the way lands and oceans were exploited, in research and education, and in inspiring a movement of people, businesses and governments through celebrating success stories, he added.