Sunday, October 18, 2009

2 °C vs. Humanity

My first ever Connectors training programme in Pakistan for NGOs professionals in Pakistan!!

Young professionals’ voice for world’ politicians!

With my every power point slide transition, the smiling faces of young professionals were turning into shocking expressions and often looking at each other with hidden questions in eyes. In a mix reaction of fears and love for humanity, silence turned into voices and every body wanted to know more…

“Oh what will happen to humanity?”

Temperature is increasing, disasters are happening. We really need strong political will for Copenhagen and actions without further delay.

What will happen to humanity if temperature goes above 2 °C. Extreme weather event are already happening around us today. If severe calamities will occur more frequently in future, this world will not be able to face the biggest challenge to humanity- Climate Change

Can we stop it? Can we live safe on this planet? 2030 or 2050 is not that much far when humanity will be in the time of more frequent and severe natural calamities. Should we vote for our politicians and leaders for their own political agenda or to vote for the agenda of humanity- Agenda for Climate Change?

2050 is not too far for humanity as Africa and South Asia will be more food insecure? What we are giving to our future generation in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, African and pacific nations?

If world has already crossed the figure of 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in atmosphere, will it be possible in current scenario to reduce it to 350ppm to avoid temperature go above 2 °C and to prevent all of us from extreme weathers?

Why don’t the major polluters look at the figures when Climate Change is already taking 300,000 lives every year now? Why don’t they realize that 20% more droughts will happen by 2030 if emission is not controlled now? What, if continuous global warming will result in 100 million people displacements for every meter sea level rise?

Of course we can’t afford wait longer. Looking at all these horrible scientific calculations and estimates of today and near future, world need to ACT now to prevent humanity from severe impacts of Climate Change.

What is more important? Technology or political will?? Of course the political will. Science and Technology is not an issue, it is available and it can be developed more.


These were some of the hot topics and points of consideration when young professional, representing National and International NGOs from different parts of Pakistan gathered in Saibaan training hall, Mansehra to become CONNECTORS and to play their effective role for awareness raising in communities and influencing policies of government and non government organizations to act on Climate Change.

While going through the Climate Change facts and figures in my presentation, these young professionals are now showing commitments for next two three months and ahead to take responsibilities of orienting more audiences/communities on Climate Change, talking with policy makers, NGOs managers and media. These young professionals are now also ready to take personal actions at the families and community level for awareness raising and behavioral change.

My mandate for the day was also to start a discussion among these young professionals after sharing the scientific information on Climate Change and its impact on humanity. We really got able to understand the causes and impacts and started realizing what can be done at personal and official level to avoid climate crises.

Our first responsibility is to take action by our own; we are here representing organizations with our wider networks and outreach in Pakistan, so let’s take this responsibility to reach people living in far flung areas and make them aware about Climate Change, said Sahibzada Jawad, Saibaan Development Organization.

Today we realize that we need to act. Our youth is our future. If we want to work for youth’ development then let’s engages them in Climate campaign as well. In this way, we can better make our community aware and raise a voice up to government and other organizational level, said Memona Choudery from UNDP.

We have to protect our natural resources, we have to conserve and develop our forests and we have to promote renewable energy opportunities. Belonging to leading NGOs in Pakistan, we have the responsibility to change our policies and strategies and start taking community level initiatives. We got to know more today that Copenhagen conference will be perhaps the last and best option to bring rich and poor nation close to each other and to support each other; said Abdul Majid from World Vision International- Pakistan.

We have a wider network of volunteers in different districts of Pakistan, We will be integrating Climate Change into our organization strategy and we will work for humanity. By this we can make realize our world leaders to act as well, said Amjad Ali from American Red Cross- Pakistan.

I think, it will be even too late till Copenhagen agreement, after what we saw today the rapidly growing line in the graph showing CO2 emission and increasing temperature. It is so horrible to see that an early and rapid action by 2010 would still allow temperature rise to average 2.8 °C by 2100, said Saad, from Alternate Solutions.

We today accept the truth that Climate Change is a big challenge of this century and it should be a priority focus of world leaders, but we as NGO professionals and humanitarian should take every possible step, even smaller at the family and community level, to avoid severe impacts of Climate Change, said Irum Gillani, from World Vision International- Pakistan.

Looking today on Pakistan situation we can not ignore realities. Our people are facing droughts, deforestation and flooding. Our coastal areas are becoming risky and our agriculture will be highly impacted by changing monsoon and weather condition. Our glaciers are melting and we are at risk of fresh water availability in future. What we need is to seriously think and act for Climate change mitigation and adaptation. We have to influence our organizations and our government, said Shabana from Action Aid Pakistan.

We have to take action on Climate Change if we want to ensure food security in poor countries like Pakistan, said Naheed from Sarhad Rural Support Programme.
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And lots of other talks, realization and commitments...

Finally the time come I waited to see NGOs’ representatives signing a declaration showing their commitment, CONNECT to each other and take every possible step to contribute in the common objective of avoid Climate crises, pressurize officials and politicians and advocate with the world to keep the temperature below 2 °C.

I recall my memorable events in Asia-pacific summit in Melbourne last July 2009, when my heart and mind decided to connect people in Pakistan on Climate Change issue. I am pretty sure that these young professionals will now effectively contribute in this global campaign and conveying message to their audiences and make them aware to decide what they want and can afford because of Climate Change.

We all have to realize the sense of urgency and accept this big challenge of 21st century i.e. the
“2 °C vs. Humanity”


Big hands to representatives from National and International NGOs joining campaign “Climate Project Connectors” in Pakistan…

World Vision International-Pakistan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), Action Aid International-Pakistan, Haashar Association Mansehra, Alternate Solutions, International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS), American Red Cross, SPEED, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Pakistan Hoslamand Khawateen Network (PHKN) and Saibaan Development Organization Mansehra (hosting the event)

Asif
The Climate Project Presenter

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Climate Change, Pakistan and Road to Copenhagen


Climate Change is affecting Pakistan with temperature increase, change in monsoon rain patterns and melting of glaciers in the northern areas. From 1992-2005, the country experienced 11 extreme events with the 2005 earthquake (and consequent land sliding and flash floods) in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Pakistan, along with other UN member countries will be gathering in December climate change conference in Copenhagen. It will be a political tipping point. We will not have the time to create another political tipping point after that.

Why is Copenhagen so impor¬tant? Simply, we have to talk to major polluters to start re¬ducing greenhouse gases globally by around 2015. If we can do that, we can limit a temperature rise to about 2°C. Our government has to talk to those rich countries at Copenhagen and to reach a justified international agreement, otherwise we go over 2°C glo¬bal warming and will be more affected.

In Pakistan, majority of the population is unaware about Climate Change science and particularly the role and ground work of our government for upcoming Copenhagen talk. We need to know what our government is going to decide about our fate with international community.

To start the turn around by 2015, we need a new international agreement up and running by that date. For the Kyoto Protocol will run out in 2012.

The world decided at the 2007 Bali climate change conference that a post-Kyoto agreement will be delivered at Copenhagen. As someone said, it's our last best chance.

The industrial countries need to set GHG reduc¬tion targets and commit to miti¬gating the effects of climate change. Secondly, developed countries have to help deve¬loping countries by opening up access to the finance and technol¬ogy to fight cli¬mate change and adapt to its ef¬fects.

More severe incident will happen if global warm¬ing goes over 2°C.
In Pakistan melting glaciers, decreasing freshwater availability, flooding from rivers, pressure on natural resources and environment and rise in endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrheal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are some of the real example.

Climate Change impacts are globally visible. The Greenland ice sheet and Arctic Sea ice disintegrate over the next few hundred years. That means a 2.7m sea rise. If the West Antarctic ice sheet starts to come apart as well, the sea le¬vel rise swells to more than 5m.

But it is do-able. We can meet the climate change challenge and not bankrupt our lifestyle. Al Gore said we have enough technology to solve three climate crises, and we only have to solve one.

A young delegate from Papua New Guinea famously stole the show at the 2007 Bali climate change conference. He put it directly to the US delegate to either lead or follow. If neither, then just get out of the way.

The Asia-Pacific Summit on Climate Change in Melbourne was a milestone in July 2009 to gather people of diverse culture from 19 countries, including Pakistan to raise a common voice and to advocate with governments to take action now.

Following the summit, my campaign in Pakistan “Climate Project Connectors” is engaging local communities, media, NGOs and government authorities to create mass awareness on climate change challenges and demand for actions. This is also important for us as less then 100 days to go Copenhagen.

If you want to become a Connector and work with other Pakistani’s to make sure the nation’s voice is heard at Copenhagen go to www.climateproject.org or email Asif Iqbal on asifoghi@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recalling 8th October 2005- 4th anniversary of devastating earthquake of Pakistan


Today in District Mansehra, communities of Mansehra (Pakistan) together with the local government, national and international NGOs activists and students observed the 4th anniversary of devastating earthquake that occurred on 8th October 2005, killing more then 73, 000 innocent people and more then 2 million homeless. This joint memorial recalled the memories of biggest natural disaster in the history of Pakistan when people lost their loved family members, friends and villages as the earthquake with 7.6 magnitudes on rector scale jolted the northern parts of NWFP.

The today’s memorial event showed the great resilience of Pakistani people who had started recovering from the psychological impacts of the earthquake even within the first year of disaster. Although the human and infrastructure loses were a lot but the people of this earthquake affected region are now coming back to life and staying committed to face the miseries due to this natural disaster. Today’s event was a mix of sad moments, emotions and feelings but the most significant aspect was the courage and determination on people’ faces showing them highly resilient and ambitious to help their people in case of such emergencies in future. They remembered their loved one, performed different activities together with different organizations like displaying stalls, speaking about their new skills and abilities, search and rescue exercise, puppet show, children games, speeches etc.

International community together with the support of Pakistan Army, local communities and organizations played a tremendous job after the 2005 earthquake in reaching affected people within hours and helping those in a situation when they had lost every thing in their lives, their loved ones and their homes.

No doubt the earthquake of 2005 put a visible impact on the lives of communities living in this region by lose of bread earners, sources of livelihoods, lots of disabilities and trauma, but with the passage of time, all miseries and difficulties started turning into recoveries and new life. With limited resources, capacities and on going rehabilitation and development work in earthquake affected areas, still there are issues like people living in shelters, existence of major fault lines and a fear of another earthquake, children without school buildings, communities without health facilities, limited income resources and many more. But the faces of people today showed that they want to keep a hope and they are determined despite of many difficulties in their lives.