Climate change a serious threat to national security


Islamabad: Climate change is a serious threat to human and national security of Pakistan; comprehensive policies and concerted efforts are necessary to deal with the complex and devastative effects of climate change: Experts Arshad Muhammad Khan, Executive Director, Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Islamabad, Dr. Noman S. Star, Head of Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Defense University (NDU) and Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Centre, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) spoke at the seminar on “Looming dangers of climate change on national and human security” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.

Shakeel Ahmad Ramay was of the view that Pakistan faces many problems simultaneously such as financial and food challenges amid worsening issue of climate change. He said that the biggest manifestation of climate change in Pakistan was 2010 floods which led to at least damages of over 10 billion dollars. He said that the country particularly faces agricultural and water challenges and degradation of natural resources as a result of climate change will lead to decreased in agricultural production. Pakistan’s all regions except Gilgit-Baltistan are highly vulnerable to the affects of climate change with regard to agricultural production. He said that country’s 48.7 percent population was food insecure before 2010 floods and now it has gone up around 58.7 percent.

He deplored that the country’s population has to face all these sever challenges in a situation when the country has no national agricultural policy except in KPK and no food security policy and also increasing trans-boundary India-Pakistan disputes over water issues which will also impact the peace process in this region significantly. He said construction of controversial Baglihar dam by India and rapid melting of Siachen glacier due to presence of military by both sides will have damaging effects for the populations on both sides in the short and long run.

Dr. Noman S. Star said the climate change is a threat multiplier to national and human security and is a complex challenge to global community especially for resource-starved developing countries. He said it is a very complex and technical problem for the whole world and even the United States in its 2006 National Security Strategy assigned its defense department to plan for deadly pandemics and other natural disasters.

He said that the debate called for re-definition of security, from the ‘state’ to the ‘individual’ which implies ensuring the political, social and economic rights through social, economic and political reforms. “While human security is linked to political liberalism, extraneous factors such as environment and climate change can have serious impact as well” he went on saying. He said that Pakistan has faced threats from natural disasters while the threat of terrorism has assumed greater significance than traditional threats.

Urging the link between climate change and human security is important to understand, he said environmental neglect coupled with poverty can turn hazards into disasters adding that poverty is a bad mix and is a factor that makes poor and developing countries more vulnerable against natural and man-made disasters. “declining ecosystem services, threat of climate change, and HIV/AIDS related problems, combine to create or exacerbate political instability and economic hardship for millions in Africa clearly explain this linkage as to why 90 percent of current conflicts are found in 30 percent of the poorest countries” he added.

He said Pakistan is no exception and has deforestation, increase periods of droughts, water issues, hydel challenges leading to power shortages, weather pattern changes, and food insecurity or scarcity, He called for concerted efforts at the national, regional and global level and also greater collaboration between the civil society and the state. He also urged more and more debate on media on these issues and political will of the leaders for dealing with this challenge.

Arshad Muhammad Khan was of the view that anthropogenic influences since the industrial revolution, spiralling population, high pace of industrialization, increased use of fossil oils in industry and transportation, and deforestation for agriculture and urbanization have led to the process of climate change. He said that climate change included global warming, increased precipitation and its uneven distribution, melting of glaciers and snow, sea level rise, increase in frequency and sensitivity of extreme weather events while the impacts were apparent in the shape of uncertainty in water availability, decreased in crops yields, loss of bio-diversity, increased health risks, and newer perspectives for sources of energy.

He said that climate change is a major threat for Pakistan and as it severely affects country’s food, water and energy security, human health, coastal areas and also has a potential to lead to human migration.

For more information, contact:
Faisal Nadeem Gorchani
Coordinator, Policy Advocacy and Outreach
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
38 Embassy Road, G-6/3 Islamabad, Pakistan
Postal Code: 44000
Tel: +92-51-2278134, (Ext: 113)
Fax: +92-51-2278135
Cell: 00-92-333-559 2210
Email: main@sdpi.org

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