(Filed By: Zeenat Shehzadi-News Desk)
GENEVA: Floods caused massive destruction in Pakistan last year. Many people lost their lives and millions were displaced. For the relief of these victims, Pakistan has appealed for cooperation from the international community, For the purpose of which this conference organized in Geneva.
The opening session of the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan co-hosted by Pakistan and the United Nations. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called on the world to help the Flood-devastated country.
The daylong event has gathered high-level representatives from dozens of countries, including several heads of State and Government
PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN “SHAHBAZ SHARIF”
PM Shahbaz Sharif said that, the world is standing at a “turning point of history” today.
“It’s not only a question of how to survive but It’s a question of how to maintain our dignity and honor, by moving forward with a sense of purpose and a sense of achievement.”
The purpose of the day-long conference which is being attended by heads of state and government and other stakeholders is to draw up international support to rehabilitate the population affected by Floods and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner.
PM Shahbaz Sharif stressed
“I am asking for a sustained international support plan to meet this daunting challenge, for a new lifeline for these people. Together we have to rebuild their lives and their dreams,” he concluded.
The premier went on to say that his government had prepared a comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and resilience — the 4RF.
“The first part of the plan reflects the recovery and reconstruction, bearing in mind that the minimum funding of $16.3bn is required, half of which will be met with domestic resources, half from foreign resources.”
He explained that the second part of the plan incorporated flood-resilient design and infrastructure, such as protecting highways and early warning systems, of which $8bn would be required over the span of three years.
“This conference today is not just about helping to rebuild lives, but in fact, it is about the solidarity and vision needed to ensure a future not just on paper but in schools and homes.
“I am asking for your support for those who have lost their life savings, homes, and livelihoods and are facing the harsh winter under open skies.
“I am asking for a sustained international support plan to meet this daunting challenge, for a new lifeline for these people. Together we have to rebuild their lives and their dreams,” he said.
United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres
In his opening remarks at the Geneva moot, UN Chief Antonio Guterres urged the international community for “massive investments” to help Pakistan.
“No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan,” the secretary general said, highlighting that 9m people had been pushed to the brink of poverty.
“But the people of Pakistan met this epic tragedy with heroic humanity. I will never forget the personal testimonies of women and men I met in September. They left their own homes to help their neighbours and bring them to safety.”
Rebuilding Pakistan in a resilient way would need $16bn but added that “far more” would be required in the long run
“Initiatives to address daunting social and environmental challenges are needed for reconstructing homes and buildings, and redesigning infrastructure including roads bridges, schools and hospitals.”
Guterres went on to say that the people of Pakistan were “doubly victimised” by climate disasters and “morally bankrupt” global financial systems. “This system routinely denies middle-income countries of debt relief and concessional relief needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters.”
Hence, he pointed out, there was a need for creative ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing.
“We need to be honest about the brutal injustice suffered by developing countries due to climate change. If there is any doubt about loss and damage, go to Pakistan. The devastation of climate change is real.”
Towards the end of his address, Guterres said that today’s conference was the first step on a long journey to the recovery and reconstruction of Pakistan.
He promised that the UN would be there with the country and that every step will be inspired by the endurance and generosity of the people of Pakistan in this critical and colossal mission.
Foreign Minister of Pakistan “Bilawal Bhutto Zardari”
In his address at the climate conference, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that Pakistan would need considerable support over the next several years to implement a comprehensive plan for flood recovery.
“At least half of the framework plan will be implemented from our own resources,” he told the moot.
He underlined that the government of Pakistan had worked with world institutions including the UN, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Union to prepare a comprehensive framework document on resilience, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
“At the level of our local communities, we are already engaged in rebuilding in the restoration of homes, villages, roads, and communication networks. “
Bilawal vowed that the government will transform the challenge of recovery and reconstruction into an opportunity to build a more resilient Pakistan and economy which is dynamic and sustainable.
“We are determined to do it in an open, transparent, and collaborative way. The rationale for this conference is to express international solidarity with Pakistan as it begins its journey towards building back better.”
He expressed gratitude to the UN for convening the conference. “We remain steadfast in responding to the emergency needs of the affected population and the reconstruction of affected infrastructure.”
Finance Minister of Pakistan “Ishaq Dar”
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan is committed to its international obligations.
He asserted that the country was on track of its macroeconomic fiscal agenda which he said focused on increasing revenues, spending on social sector programmers, decreasing expenditure and creating more fiscal space for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
“Right now, Pakistan is facing challenges on account of additional outlays, incurred and projected for the flood-related rescue and rehabilitation needs.
“Pakistan is carrying out the necessary fiscal reforms but we believe we urgently need short term assistance as we navigate a number of challenges,” Dar highlighted
“Our urgent expectation is not merely a commitment for resources but we are also looking at our own budget inflows and assistance during the remainder of the current fiscal year in order for government to continue to provide relief.”
Turkish President “Recep Tayyip Erdogan”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said that Turkiye was ready to contribute to meeting the immediate needs of disaster victims in Pakistan, as well as supporting the reconstruction process.
In a video statement at the conference, he recalled how Turkish people stood by the Pakistani people through their difficult days and would continue to do so in the future.
President Erdogan highlighted that the country sent “more than 7500 tons of humanitarian aid” on 15 planes and 13 trains when the disaster hit Pakistan.
He added that the country had “shared the products we obtained locally, with the victims [of the floods” along with sending two ships containing more than 1,630 tons of humanitarian aid.
“The disaster demonstrates what devastation climate change can cause,” the Turkish president concluded.
French President Emmanuel Macron
Speaking via video link, French President Emmanuel Macron told the conference that his country would contribute 360m euros ($384 million). He also said France was prepared to join an international support group being created to help Pakistan implement its plan, and said it would also provide an additional 10m euros in emergency aid.
European Commission (EU) chief “Ursula von der Leyen”
European Commission (EU) chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU contributing 500m euros towards Pakistan’s reconstruction, as she announced a fresh injection of 10 Million Euros in humanitarian assistance.
German Ambassador “Alfred Grannas”
German Ambassador Alfred Grannas said that his country had pledged an additional 89 Million Euros to its climate and energy initiative in Pakistan.
“This support comes on top of the 99m euros already promised. I’m grateful we can continue our partnership with the people the government of Pakistan to build a #ResilientPakistan!”
USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman
A senior official from the Development Agency USAID said that Washington would provide an additional $100m in funding.
“I am delighted to announce that the United States is making an additional $100 million commitment to Pakistan to help it recover from the devastating 2022 monster monsoon floods,” told reporters on the sidelines of the conference in Geneva.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Public Policy and Strategic Communication Fahd Husain quoted the UN chief as saying that approximately $7.2bn had been raised at the Geneva conference..”
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb took to Twitter to announce that the Islamic Development Bank had pledged $4.2bn while World Bank President for South Asia Martin Raiser had pledged $2bn.
PM Shehbaz and Guterres address a Joint Press Conference
Later in the day, PM Shehbaz and Guterres address a joint press conference where the two reiterated the need for the global community to aid Pakistan’s recovery.
PM Shehbaz said that more than 1,700 people had died in last year’s calamitous floods in Pakistan while more than eight million had been displaced. “I’ve not seen this kind of devastation in my entire life, which had not only crippled our economy but has posed a challenge which Pakistan can’t navigate alone.”
He went on to say that Pakistan’s economy had suffered a loss of $30 billion. The premier thanked the UN secretary general and friendly countries for the support extended during this difficult time. “As I speak, we have already spent about $400m to provide basic support to 2.7m households.”
The premier said that the next phase involved reconstructing the damaged infrastructure in order to enable citizens to stand on their own two feet. “It is a huge challenge.”
He said that Pakistan had prepared a comprehensive framework for rebuilding which would include a robust financing mechanism. “We would be able to generate close to $8bn domestically but we are seeking an equal amount from other countries.”
He noted that “hefty amounts” had been announced at today’s conference, assuring the donors that they would be spent in a transparent manner. “I’ve put in place third-party mechanism so that every penny is accounted for.”
During the press conference, the premier also expressed Pakistan’s commitment to complete the IMF programme.
At the same time, however, he wondered how the Fund could expect him to pass on the burden of inflation to the citizenry that was still reeling from floods.