ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday lauded his team for successfully carrying out the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) acknowledged Pakistan’s lead role in ecosystem restoration.
“Proud of my team,” the prime minister said in a tweet, quoting UNEP as saying that “We are at a point in history where we need to act, and Pakistan is leading on this important effort”.
The prime minister also shared an article published on the website of Stockholm+50 – an international meeting convened by the United Nations General Assembly, the preparatory meeting of which was held on March 28 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The article mentioned Pakistan’s contribution towards the up-gradation of the environment.
“Large scale restoration initiatives such as The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project are central to Pakistan’s efforts to support the UN Decade and to increase ecosystem restoration,” said Dechen Tsering, UNEP’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “We are at a point in history where we need to act, and Pakistan is leading on this important effort.”
The UNEP’s Inclusive Wealth Report for Pakistan, a first-of-its-kind accounting of the country’s natural, human and produced capital, said “it was promising to see the steps that the country’s government is taking to turn things around, particularly with its restoration projects”.
The article highlighted that almost one year into the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, Pakistan was showing what is possible by pushing forward on its Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
The ambitious project – which aims to revive forest and wildlife resources in Pakistan and bring a host of other benefits – planted 1.42 billion trees between 2019 and December 2021, covering 1.36 million acres across almost 10,000 sites.
Pakistan, which hosted World Environment Day in 2021, is particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) before the project began found that only around five percent of the country has forest cover, against a global average of 31 percent, making it one of the six countries most susceptible to climate change.
According to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, Pakistan is particularly susceptible to increased variability of monsoons, receding Himalayan glaciers, and extreme events including floods and droughts. The knock-on effect of these will be an increase in food and water insecurity.
The government has committed to increasing its Protected Areas to 15 percent by 2023. In 2018 they stood at 12 percent; by mid-2021 they stood at 13.9 percent.
Environmental problems in Pakistan are exacerbated by its large population. It is the fifth most populous country in the world, which puts increasing strain on the environment. Additionally, according to the World Bank, over 24 percent of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty, which puts them at greater risk of impacts of climate change. This is largely because they have a higher dependency on natural resources and are less able to cope with climatic variability.
“The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is not only helping restore ailing ecosystems and improve natural capital; it is also supporting livelihoods. The project is expected to create jobs for almost 85,000 daily wagers. In addition, Pakistan’s protected areas initiative will create almost 7,000 long-term jobs,” the article concluded. TF REPORT