Pakistan at a Glance
Population: 231.9 Million (2021)
Major Threats: Floods, Drought, Social Issues (Terrorism, Territorial Conflict, Poverty, Health, Nutrition, Hygiene)
Populations Affected: Urban a Rural Communities
Locations Affected: Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Industries Affected: Agriculture, Infrastructure
Compounding Issues: Human Security, Poverty, Water Resources, Glaciers Threats, Livelihoods, Reforestation
World Risk Index Ranking: 85
Global Climate Risk Index: 15 (2021)
Pakistan shares its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to the west, while India and China border it to the east. Since gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan has grappled with a long history of conflicts and violence. Additionally, the country faces annual floods, primarily during the monsoon seasons, and the worsening climate situation is increasing the severity of these disasters. Unfortunately, communities are not adequately prepared to cope with these challenges. In July 2022, heavy rainfall resulted in devastating floods, claiming the lives of over 1,000 people, including children, and displacing more than 500,000 to temporary shelters. The majority of Pakistan’s population resides along the Indus River, which played a significant role in causing the 2022 flood.
Some areas have remained submerged for months, and those in shelters endure various conditions, including diarrhea, skin infections, and malaria.
Major Threats and Economy
Pakistan’s economy heavily relies on exports, including mining products and fossil fuels for energy, which are essential for its economic stability. Reduced demand for mining products has led to increased inflation, higher public debt, and slower economic growth, disproportionately affecting the poor. Flash flooding exacerbates these challenges by worsening living conditions, hindering relief distribution, limiting supplies, and driving up prices.
The presence of extremist organizations poses a significant threat to Pakistan’s security, with acts of terrorism and extremism continuing to disrupt the nation and create severe security concerns.
Climate Change Impacts
Changing weather patterns in Pakistan are unmistakably linked to climate change. Intense rainfall has submerged parts of the country for months, resulting in food shortages due to damaged crops and livestock losses. Rising temperatures are also affecting glaciers, which, when combined with extreme weather events, disrupt daily life and endanger lives.
In 2022, Pakistan experienced multiple extreme weather events, including scorching heatwaves with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius and recurrent flash floods caused by continuous monsoon rains.
Pakistan faces a range of hydrometeorological hazards, with monsoons, droughts, and extreme temperatures being the primary contributors to climate change challenges over the decades. These hazards lead to annual economic losses amounting to millions of dollars.
While not frequent, Pakistan is highly exposed to earthquake risks. The 2005 earthquake claimed up to 75,000 lives, with its epicenter located between two major tectonic plates. The losses resulting from the direct impact of the earthquake were second only to those in the 1950s. Despite their infrequency, earthquakes remain a significant threat due to Pakistan’s geographical location.
Adaptation and Local Context
Pakistan, despite its lower greenhouse gas emissions, faces a climate crisis. The country has witnessed a significant decrease in forest cover, coupled with a growing population. The government initiated the 1 Billion Tree Project in 2015 as a response to global warming and climate change, earning international recognition. Subsequently, Pakistan reintroduced the 100 Billion Tree Project as a commitment to forest rehabilitation.
In late August 2022, the Qatar Investment Authority expressed interest in investing in Pakistan’s sectors to address its economic crisis, with the inflation rate reaching 24 percent in July. This collaboration aimed to reduce the country’s vulnerability.
The United States has also become a prominent source of foreign direct investment, focusing on agribusiness, financial services, information and communication technology (ICT), and renewable energy, with investments totaling more than $1 billion across these sectors.
Pakistan’s government has updated its climate change policy, addressing issues related to water systems, forestry, agriculture, and ecosystem vulnerability. This policy aligns with the national plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote forest rehabilitation.
Opportunities and Recommendations to International Donors
Climate-related disasters in Pakistan burden the community with the melting glaciers resulting in loss of lives, property, livelihoods, and infrastructure. Mitigation and prevention are crucial as global temperatures rise. International donors are encouraged to consider investing in various sectors, including:
- Food Processing
- Information Technology
- Housing and Construction
- Tourism and Hospitality
Areas where international donors can provide support include:
- Agriculture and ecosystem programs for protecting biodiversity
- Infrastructure works and flood prevention
- Resilient water system storage and distribution
- Forest rehabilitation
- Glacial dam and river rehabilitation
- Community economic empowerment