INTERVIEW: “Today it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow it is another country” — Muhammad Farooq, Senior Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination discusses climate-induced migration, challenges and collaboration with IOM
IOM Pakistan recently conducted an interview with Muhammad Farooq, the Senior Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Climate Change, to delve into the challenges posed by climate change, human mobility, key priorities, and the collaboration between IOM and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination (MoCC).
IOM Pakistan is implementing the project ‘Managing Human Mobility in the context of Climate Change in Pakistan’ in coordination with the MoCC. The project aims to strengthen the Government of Pakistan’s ability to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change related migration and displacement. As part of the project, various capacity building initiatives focusing on climate change-induced mobility and data management in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta are being undertaken.
To foster better coordination among federal and provincial stakeholders on the subject, IOM, in collaboration with the MoCC, has established the Climate Change and Human Mobility Synergy Group. IOM has conducted extensive research on climate change-induced human mobility in Pakistan and is also providing technical assistance for the finalization of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) by the Government of Pakistan.
Muhammad Farooq is the Senior Joint Secretary (Development) at the MoCC. He is an engineer by profession and holds a Masters in Sustainable Development from Imperial College London. He serves as focal point for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Loss and Damage Fund, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) inventories and other development initiatives.
IOM: What are the most significant climate change-related challenges facing Pakistan?
Muhammad Farooq: Pakistan is highly vulnerable to recurring natural events such as heat waves, floods, droughts and glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF). The main challenge we face is the unpredictability of the weather as well as the scale of the impact of the climate events. The climate challenges we confront are significant, especially considering Pakistan's limited resources for development, climate resilience, and adaptation. Without assistance from the international community, it would be difficult for Pakistan to cope. The phrase "today it's Pakistan, tomorrow it will be another country" underscores the magnitude of our challenges, beginning with heat waves in April, followed by monsoon flooding, and then drought in September and October. These events result in various calamities. Last year, the mega flood submerged a large part of the country, severely damaging infrastructure, housing, livestock and agriculture. Additionally, internal migration occurs as people move from one area to another in search of income generation and food security which have both been severely impacted by the climate events.
IOM: What are some of the key priority areas of the Ministry of Climate Change?
Muhammad Farooq:The challenges we face are substantial, requiring us to address them effectively. It's not just the Ministry of Climate Change that is involved; it's a cross-cutting issue, therefore, collaboration is required with other ministries such as the Ministry of Planning, Finance, Economic Affairs, Agriculture, and Food Security. The government has set priorities, with adaptation being the first of them. While mitigation is also a priority and we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% (15% unconditionally, 35% conditionally) as stated in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), our main focus is on building resilience among communities and climate change-resilient infrastructure through adaptation. We have identified eight vulnerable sectors, including human settlements, agriculture, forestry, and water, where adaptability is crucial. One significant initiative we have launched is called Living Indus, a comprehensive adaptation plan that spans from the northern areas to the coast. We have implemented policies for electric vehicles, air pollution control, hazardous waste management, and are currently working on regulations for plastic and waste management. We are actively working in various areas, but our foremost emphasis is on adaptation to protect the livelihoods of the Pakistani population and the major sectors of the economy from climate-related impacts.
“It's not just the MoCC that is involved; it's a cross-cutting issue, therefore, collaboration is required.”
IOM: Why is it important to consider human mobility in the context of climate change in Pakistan?
Muhammad Farooq: Unlike other countries where safe and orderly migration occurs, Pakistan experiences climate-induced migration due to floods, heatwaves, and droughts. It negatively impacts the economy, particularly the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of our country. This migration, which is mainly urban migration, places pressure on human settlements in cities, urban areas, and peri-urban areas. Additionally, agricultural land gets encroached upon for infrastructure, exacerbating the loss of agriculture and migration of human resources to cities. Human mobility poses challenges as it results in the loss of indigenous and local knowledge when people migrate, ultimately eroding people's identities.
Therefore, we urge the international community and donors to address these climate change challenges. We have an adaptation plan, which would require an annual investment of approximately USD 7 to 14 billion for simple adaptation. The Living Indus initiative, which focuses on the Indus River areas, requires a budget of USD 11 to 17 billion to implement effective adaptation strategies.
We need a streamlined and expedited process to address the urgent funding needs, as securing funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) Adaptation Fund can take 1,5 years or longer. The recently established loss and damage fund should be trigger-based, ensuring that countries impacted by climate change, including small island developing countries and developing nations in Asia and other regions, receive timely and adequate financing to address climate change challenges.
IOM: Can you tell us more about your collaboration with IOM?
Muhammad Farooq: The challenge in Pakistan is the lack of available data on people's migration, climate proofing, and climate risks. The Global Risk Modeling Alliance is currently working on climate risk profiling for the entire country. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is addressing another aspect related to climate change: the migration of individuals affected by its impacts. Unfortunately, we currently have little available data on this matter. Due to the absence of data on these migration patterns, planning for the welfare of people and livestock in the agriculture sector becomes a serious challenge. Furthermore, human mobility is a crucial aspect of adaptation, and without accurate data and figures, addressing this challenge becomes significantly difficult. IOM is actively working on collecting data on climate-induced migration and displacement and is conducting a capacity needs assessment for adaptation purposes.
“One of the challenges in Pakistan is the lack of available data on people's migration, climate proofing, and climate risks.”
Having access to this data would greatly enhance our planning capabilities, enabling us to rely on it for effective decision-making. We are closely collaborating with IOM, and IOM has provided us with an expert consultant who is assisting in the development of our adaptation plan. Integrating national adaptation measures at various levels of governance is a priority, and collaboration with IOM, the Planning Commission, and the Ministry of Finance will enable the integration of adaptation strategies and initiatives based on the data collected. Additionally, IOM is engaged in capacity building for federal and provincial government personnel through various training sessions and workshops. These events will thoroughly discuss human mobility, capacity building, data management and the challenges we face in this regard
“IOM is actively working on collecting data on climate-induced migration and displacement and is conducting a capacity needs assessment for adaptation purposes.”
IOM: What is the significance of Pakistan's national adaptation plan?
Muhammad Farooq:The national adaptation plan will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We have already identified nine sectors of the economy that require urgent adaptation due to the annual occurrence of climate vagaries such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, etc. We have established medium, short, and long-term plans to address these sectors effectively. The adaptation plan serves as a foundation for the development of projects that will be funded by entities like the GCF, GEF Adaptation Fund, and other international financial institutions and donors. Additionally, the governance and institutional arrangement model is of utmost significance. The existing international climate finance structure often prolongs the process of transforming funding proposals into actual provisions of funds. By submitting our adaptation plan to the UNFCCC and incorporating price tags for the proposed interventions, it will become easier for us to approach donors and international financial institutions to tackle the challenges we are currently facing.
“Having access to this data would greatly enhance our planning capabilities, enabling us to rely on it for effective decision-making.”
IOM: Would you like to share any concluding thoughts?
Muhammad Farooq: IOM has given the Ministry a good opportunity to work together on adaptation and specifically, the mobility of people. IOM’s needs-assessment and research will pave the way for integrating human mobility in the planning processes of the Government of Pakistan and institutionalizing aspects of climate change.