Climate change in Pakistan

A recent consultation held by International Alert on Climate Change, Security and Conflict in Islamabad, Pakistan acknowledged that poor resource management and changes in climate are crucial components of current and potential tensions in both the country and wider region.

The discussion, which is part of an ongoing project commissioned by the G7, aimed to raise awareness about this linkage among policy- and decision-makers. It brought together national policy experts, representatives working on water and climate change from the government, regional organisations and NGOs, and bilateral development donors.

Participants stressed that Pakistan faces numerous climate risks and that vulnerability to these is driven by both changes in the climate and, more critically, by poor resource governance and lack of awareness, foresight, preparedness and disaster compensation. The exposure to climate and environmental risks will increase in the future, mostly because of population growth.

Water, in particular its management, was identified as a critical element of current and potential discord. In terms of agriculture and food security, increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns pose challenges for farmers in Pakistan. Agriculture and food security are closely linked. However, food insecurity is not only determined by the level of food production but more by the degree of accessibility, which in turn depends on household income.

Pakistan has a climate change division under the Environmental Protection Agency. Participants recognised that national policy-makers do increasingly consider climate change. However, some see a lack of coordination and cooperation between governmental bodies and different levels of devolved government as an obstacle to implementing existing climate and environmental policies. Improved governance, especially with respect to water management and risk preparedness, is needed to avoid tensions over the distribution of resources.

This consultation contributed to the ongoing G7 project commissioned to help member states better understand the joint challenges of climate change, fragility and security in order to build resilience.