Pakistan, still struggling with the effects of last year’s devastating floods, is asking for billions of dollars in international aid on Monday to rebuild and better withstand the effects of climate change.
The fifth most populous country in the world with 216 million people is responsible for less than one percent of greenhouse gas emissions. But it is one of the most vulnerable to a growing number of extreme weather events.
Pakistan and the United Nations are hosting an international conference in Geneva on Monday where they will call on countries, organizations and businesses to increase their support, including financial support, for the country’s long-term reconstruction and climate resilience plan.
The conference will open with speeches by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary General António Guterres. Other heads of state and government should also speak there, including via videoconference, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Floods in Pakistan: permanent damage (AFP – Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA)
According to Pakistan’s Sustainable Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan, which will be officially launched at the conference on Monday, a total of about $16.3 billion (€15.3 billion) is needed.
The Government of Pakistan believes that it can finance half of this amount through its own budget and public-private partnerships, but the rest must be paid by the international community.
Approximately 450 participants from approximately 40 countries are expected, including representatives from the World Bank and development banks.
– “Decisive moment” –
“The water may have gone, but its impact is still being felt,” laments Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who describes the floods as a “catastrophic event.” “We need a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.”
Huge tracts of territory remained flooded for months, and the waters that once covered up to a third of the country still have not receded from some southern regions. The level of destruction is enormous.
More than 1,700 people died and another 33 million were affected.
A flood-displaced woman and her daughter are treated at a hospital in Johi, Pakistan’s Sindh province, September 27, 2022 (AFP/Archive – Rizwan TABASSUM)
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about four million children still live near polluted and stagnant flood waters.
Millions of people remain displaced far from their homes, and those who have been able to return home often find damaged or destroyed homes and muddy fields that cannot be planted.
According to the UN, food prices have soared and the number of food insecure Pakistanis has doubled to 14.6 million.
The World Bank estimates that as many as nine million more people could fall below the poverty line as a result of a natural disaster.
“This conference is in many ways the beginning of a process that will span several years,” Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Khalil Hashmi, said last week, referring to “a defining moment when the international community stands with the people of Pakistan.” .
Islamabad and the UN explain that Monday’s event has much broader goals than a traditional donors’ conference as it aims to establish a long-term international partnership focused on recovery but also focused on building climate resilience from Pakistan.
Pakistan is “in essence a victim of a world that is not acting fast enough in the face of climate change,” according to Mr. Steiner, who warns that without international assistance, the country will endure “an extraordinary level of suffering and suffering” for a long time to come.