Climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction efforts and it threatens to undo decades of development efforts. While climate change is a global phenomenon, its negative impacts are more severely felt by poor people and underdeveloped countries. They are more vulnerable because of their high dependence on natural resources, their limited technical capacity and insufficient financial resources to cope with climatic extremes.
One of the objectives and goal of economic development planning in Pakistan is poverty alleviation. With the onset of climate change the plight of the poor is becoming even more miserable. Therefore, it is imperative to incorporate the possible impacts of climate change on the communities living in the conditions of deprivation and poverty into future developmental plans for Pakistan.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have specified a way forward by combining efforts towards poverty alleviation along with management of climate change impacts and environmental degradation effects. In Pakistan, with rapidly increasing population, particularly, below the poverty line, renewed efforts are needed to involve the local communities into population control programs and in managing natural resources as a part of training and education towards economic wellbeing. To address the problems of poor communities living in Pakistan’s urban areas and those living in the rural areas practicing agriculture, in the wake of climate change, the Government of Pakistan shall take the following measures:
- a. Integrate poverty-climate change nexus into economic policies and plans;
- b. Ensure the implementation and expansion of national population planning strategies and programs, as the population explosion may significantly contribute towards climate change;
- c. Enhance general awareness of the problems of unchecked population growth and its demands on natural resources;
- d. Strengthen the community level climate change adaptation and mitigation measures to prepare them for enhanced and efficient natural resources management;
- e. Improve access of poor communities to appropriate technologies for crop production, integrated pest management and credit facilities for agricultural development;
- Ensure that development process is sustainable and caters the needs of poor communities.
Climate change is likely to affect poor and underprivileged regions, communities and people disproportionately as they are more vulnerable and have the least resources to adapt. In Pakistan, women are likely to be strongly affected by climate change as majority of rural women are engaged in agriculture sector which is highly climate sensitive. Climate change is expected to increase the workload of women engaged in agriculture production and other subsistence activities such as collecting fuel wood and water. Further, women are found to be more vulnerable during extreme climate events and disasters.
Pakistan fully recognizes that women are powerful agents of change. It is therefore indispensable to ensure participation of women and female gender experts in all policies, initiatives and decisions relating to climate change. To address the gender aspects of vulnerability from climate change, the Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with other relevant entities shall take the following policy measures:
- a. Mainstream gender perspective into the climate change efforts at national and regional levels;
- b. Ensure to reduce the vulnerability of women to climate change impacts, particularly in relation to their critical roles in rural areas in provisioning of water, food and energy;
- c. Recognize women contribution in usage and management of natural resources and other activities impacting climate;
- d. Undertake comprehensive study on the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change with particular focus on gender difference in capabilities to cope with climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in Pakistan;
- e. Develop gender-sensitive criteria and indicators related to adaptation and vulnerability as gender differences in this area are most crucial and most visible;
- Develop and implement climate change vulnerability-reduction measures that focus particularly women’s needs;
- Incorporate women’s appropriate role into the decision making process on climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives;
- h. Develop climate change adaptation measures on local and indigenousknowledge particularly held by women.
Author: Ali Hassan Shabbir
MSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics, Institute of Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University of Agricultural Faisalabad, Pakistan.