Sustainable development refers to a set of principles and practices aimed at meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability to fulfill the needs of the future generation.
Sustainable development is essential to saving our planet and keeping it fit for us and the coming generations to live healthier and more prosperous lives. We know we are violating nature’s fundamental laws. Now, the question is, “How are we doing it?” The answer to this question lies in the environmental deterioration brought about by us.
All the developmental activities in developed countries like Japan, China, and America are putting third-world and low-lying countries on the verge of death, as they are facing something that they have not contributed to. The melting of glaciers due to global warming and rising sea levels is causing deadly floods in underdeveloped countries. Moreover, the impacts of climate change are influencing biodiversity, agricultural growth, and the adaptability of living organisms. All these issues create problems for people in underdeveloped countries because they need more financial stability to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Therefore, we need a sustainable approach to living to protect our planet and hand it over safely to future generations.
Understanding Sustainable Development
A sustainable approach involves complex environmental, social, and economic interactions. By following sustainable development, we can create a world where economic growth does not occur at the expense of environmental deterioration and social disturbance.
In the next section of the blog, we will discuss how three critical components (environment, society, and economy) provide a framework for sustainability.
Pillars of Sustainable Development
Three pillars of sustainable development work together intricately to bring about positive environmental changes, leading to equal opportunities toward the fundamental human right for all, both present and future generations. In this section of the blog, we will discuss them briefly, one by one.
The environmental aspect of sustainability refers to protecting natural resources, reducing pollution, and dealing with the impacts of climate change to sustain our environment as a safer living place for future generations.
We can protect our environment by promoting the use of renewable sources of energy, effective waste management strategies, and preserving biodiversity. By doing so, we can ensure the longevity of our planet, keeping it greener and healthier for coming generations.
The social aspect of sustainability deals with improving the quality of life, promoting social equity and equality by promoting a judicial system, and providing equal access to education, healthcare, and other basic social needs. It focuses on human empowerment, respect for human rights, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of caste, color, or creed. Promoting social sustainability can create communities with social harmony and cohesion.
The economic domain of sustainability focuses on economic growth and development by promoting equal opportunities for jobs, businesses, and wealth distribution.
Momentarily, let’s talk about the world’s wealth distribution. It seems to be unbalanced, with most resources lying in the hands of well-developed countries, leaving third-world countries deprived of their essential needs of health, education, and life. Moreover, underworld countries face the consequences of environmental changes, which are the outcome of developmental projects in developed countries. By promoting sustainable economic development, we can distribute financial resources equally worldwide, making them economically resilient and generating prosperity.
The Need for a Green Revolution in Pakistan
So, the question is why Pakistan severely needs a green revolution.
If we consider current circumstances, we will know that Pakistan is going through a climate shift, negatively impacting our economy because Pakistan is an agricultural country and depends on agricultural yield for revenue generation. We rely on our monsoon rains for fresh water for our crops. Due to climate change, there is a shift in the monsoon, resulting in heavy rain at times of mature and standing crops and the least rain when crops require water. This results in a reduction in yield, ultimately leading to lower revenue generation and high inflation. Moreover, due to climate change, Pakistan faces severe flooding, melting glaciers, extremely high temperatures, and extreme heat shocks during the summer. So, Pakistan requires immediate attention and action.
Now we have an adequate understanding of why we need sustainable measures like the green revolution in Pakistan. So, in this part of the blog, we will first focus on all those activities leading us toward environmental deterioration and then on their solutions. Addressing these issues is essential for the well-being of the country’s natural resources and the sustainability of its economy and society.
One of the pressing concerns in Pakistan is water scarcity. The country heavily relies on its rivers, such as the Indus River, for agriculture, industrial use, and domestic consumption. However, due to population growth, urbanization, and inefficient water management practices, Pakistan is now experiencing severe water scarcity. This scarcity affects agricultural productivity and harms public health and sanitation.
As we know, Pakistan is an agricultural country, so it heavily depends on water for its economic growth. We have five major rivers in Punjab, but unfortunately, all our major rivers come from India. So, we indirectly depend on our greatest rival for our basic freshwater needs.
Additionally, due to a lack of political stability, harmony, and water management policies, we don’t have big dams to store water during monsoon periods, so most of our water ends up in the sea. We can conclude that Pakistan has a severe water shortage due to our negligence and improper management.
Water pollution is one of Pakistan’s most pressing challenges for its water resources. Industrial waste, agricultural runoff, and inadequate wastewater treatment systems contaminate rivers and groundwater, further deteriorating the quality of the water available for consumption and irrigation. Besides, our groundwater, especially in South Punjab, has a high arsenic content, making it unfit for healthy drinking. According to the World Health Organization, the limiting concentration of arsenic in groundwater is 10 ug/L, compared to 72 ug/L in Tharparkar, Multan, Kohistan, Matiari, and Manchar.
Deforestation and Loss of Biodiversity
Uncontrolled deforestation is plaguing the environmental roots of Pakistan. Forests are crucial in maintaining ecological balance, preserving biodiversity, and dealing with climate change. Unfortunately, illegal logging, unsustainable land-use practices, and urbanization have resulted in the rapid depletion of forests.
The loss of forests has a detrimental effect on wildlife habitats, soil erosion, and carbon sequestration. Additionally, it affects local communities that depend on forests for their livelihoods, such as indigenous populations and forest-dwelling tribes, resulting in environmental and economic instability.
Rapid industrialization, urbanization, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation lead to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, causing air pollution. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides trap heat from the sun, causing an increase in temperature and leading to global warming. Excessive global warming has caused significant climatic changes in Pakistan, like glacier melting, heavy rainfall, monsoon shifts, and long summers.
Climate change is a significant factor behind the loss of biodiversity in Pakistan because organisms cannot adapt to the changing environment. Many migratory birds have shifted their routes because of climate change, negatively influencing biodiversity. Moreover, climatic change and pollution pose severe health risks, like allergies.
Impact of Unsustainable Practices on Pakistan’s Economy and Society
The environmental challenges mentioned above have a detrimental effect on Pakistan’s economy and society. The significant implications of the activities mentioned above include the following:
- The depletion of natural resources, such as water and forests, directly affects various sectors, including agriculture, industry, and tourism.
- Inefficient water management practices reduce agricultural productivity, leading to food insecurity and economic instability.
- Deforestation disrupts ecosystems and deprives local communities of valuable resources, such as timber, non-timber forest products, and medicinal plants.
- Air pollution poses health risks and affects the workforce’s productivity, leading to increased healthcare costs and reduced economic output.
- Climate change impacts agriculture, infrastructure, and energy sectors, imposing additional economic burdens on the country.
These issues need immediate solutions if we want to protect our environment for safe living. In the following subsection of the blog, we will discuss ways to address the issues mentioned earlier.
The Role of the Green Revolution in Pakistan in Addressing These Challenges
To overcome the environmental challenges, a Green Revolution in Pakistan is necessary. This revolution involves adopting sustainable practices and implementing policies that promote environmental protection, conservation, and renewable energy utilization.
Sustainable agricultural techniques
Sustainable agricultural techniques include the use of practices that are not detrimental to the environment, for example, the use of organic fertilizers. By embracing sustainable agricultural techniques, Pakistan can bring about the following improvements:
- enhance water use efficiency
- reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides
- promote organic farming practices
- mitigate water scarcity
- improves soil health
- preserves biodiversity
Utilization of Renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources encompass those that people can use repeatedly, unlike fossil fuels, which take thousands and millions of years to form and are consumed once. Moreover, they are responsible for releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, causing global warming. A transition toward using renewable sources of energy not only reduces air pollution and global warming but also keeps fossil fuels safe for future generations. The whole effort helps mitigate the severe climate change we are facing.
Public awareness and education
Due to urbanization, industrialization, and increased population, people are depleting the natural environment and ecosystem to fulfill their basic needs of shelter, fuel, etc. It’s significant for us as a community to raise awareness among the general public regarding the harmful impacts of habitat degradation and ecosystem imbalance to promote environmental conservation and encourage responsible consumption habits. Such efforts can contribute to a more sustainable future for Pakistan.
At the end of this section, we can say that the above-mentioned features of the green revolution will help us make Pakistan safe to live by reducing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and saving natural resources for future use. But we should remember that creating a sustainable environment is not the responsibility of Pakistan alone; the whole world has to work as a community for this purpose.
Government Initiatives and Policies
The Pakistani government recognizes the significance of environmental sustainability and has implemented various initiatives and policies to address these challenges.
Considering all the circumstances Pakistan is going through amidst climate change and environmental issues, Pakistan formulated its National Climate Change Policy to guide sustainable economic growth to address the challenges of climate change. The policy focuses on promoting renewable energy, forest conservation, and implementing climate-resilient infrastructure projects. In order to mitigate the impact of environmental deterioration, NCCP has launched various programs like the National Clean Energy Policy, the Green Pakis Program, the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative, and Renewable Energy Projects.
National Clean Energy Policy
The National Clean Energy Policy aims to increase the share of renewable energy in Pakistan’s energy mix. It provides incentives and support for developing renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote a greener and more sustainable energy sector.
The Green Pakistan Program is a government initiative aimed at reforesting and rehabilitating degraded areas in the country. For this purpose, Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami” and the “Urban Forest Project.” Under this program, the government has planted millions of trees to restore forest cover, combat deforestation, and reduce the impacts of climate change.
Pakistan has introduced various sustainable agriculture initiatives, including promoting organic farming, efficient water management practices, and climate-resilient crop varieties. These initiatives aim to enhance agricultural productivity, conserve natural resources, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
Pakistan has undertaken several renewable energy projects and initiatives to diversify its energy sources and reduce carbon emissions. These projects include the development of solar and wind power plants, as well as investments in hydropower and biomass energy. Pakistan has launched “Green Bond” and “Nature Bond” projects to decarbonize and promote renewables.
To achieve the goal of sustainable development, NCCP has launched various projects and programs. In this section of the blog, we will look at the achievements of the NCCP concerning climate change and sustainable development.
- Access to clean water and sanitation shows improvements at the national and provincial levels. Improved drinking water sources are available to 94% of the country’s population.
- Pakistan’s share of renewable energy has increased by more than four times between 2015 and 2019. Depending on clean fuel for cooking increased to 47% from 41.3% in 2018-2019.
- Pakistan remains committed to addressing the problem of hazardous waste and achieving compliance with the Basel Convention as required under responsible consumption and production.
- The country has adopted and implemented national disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies in line with the Sendai Framework, with a 2020 index score of 0.8 compared to 0.4.
Challenges and the Way Forward: Addressing Green Revolution in Pakistan
Pakistan faces severe challenges in adopting and moving toward sustainability, like all other countries. These challenges include financial and infrastructural support, weak policies and strategies, and minimum research programs. Pakistan must embrace research, innovation, long-term commitment, and collaboration to effectively implement sustainable development practices, address challenges, and ensure social equity.
This part of the blog will focus on challenges and their solutions to promote sustainability.
Addressing Challenges in Implementing Sustainable Development Practices
Limited availability of financial and infrastructural support:
Being a developing country, Pakistan is facing many issues regarding finance. Moreover, political instability and natural disasters like floods have weakened the economy of Pakistan, leading to inflation and poverty. So, the poor financial condition for generating infrastructure for projects like Clean-Green Pakistan is creating hurdles toward a sustainable future.
To address this challenge,
- Pakistan has to become politically stable.
- The government and relevant stakeholders need to prioritize sustainable development.
- Allocate adequate resources to support initiatives that cater to environmental conservation, social welfare, and economic growth.
Lack of awareness and education
Pakistanis, as a nation, are ignorant of a sustainable future because of a lack of awareness in the context of environmental and habitat degradation, climate change, and its disastrous effects. Therefore, they are busy degrading the environment and climate.
- Conduction of education and awareness campaigns addressing individuals to understand the importance of sustainable living, waste management, and responsible consumption
- Empowering people with knowledge to create a more environmentally conscious society that actively participates in sustainable initiatives
Weak policies and regulatory frameworks
Due to a weak political system, insufficient laws, and a lack of penalties, the people of Pakistan pay the slightest attention to the policies set by the National Climate Change Policy and violate rules and regulations.
- We should establish clear guidelines, incentives, and penalties to encourage businesses, industries, and individuals to adopt sustainable approaches.
- We should foster partnerships between the public and private sectors for resources and expertise to drive sustainable development at a national level.
Lack of Social Equity
Sustainable development must be socially equitable to ensure that no segment of society is left behind. In Pakistan, there are marked differences between rich and poor, with unequal access to the basic needs of life.
- By integrating marginalized communities into decision-making processes, we can hear their voices and meet their needs.
- We can empower women, youth, and vulnerable groups through skill development, employment opportunities, and resource access.
Lack of Research and Innovation
There needs to be more research in Pakistan’s sustainable development field. We must address this problem to find advanced and more efficient ways of promoting sustainability regarding the safer use of fossil fuels and managing environmental and climate change.
- Investing in research and development focusing on renewable energy, water management, agriculture, and other critical sectors.
- Establishing research institutions and funding academic programs focusing on sustainability
- Research and innovation can help identify best practices from around the world and adapt them to the Pakistani context
In conclusion, the environment and climate put our planet on the verge of danger, making it unsafe for people to line up. We have to adopt sustainable practices to protect it from the damaging impacts of climatic and environmental changes. Pakistan, along with other developing and low-lying countries, which, although not contributing too much toward pollution, greenhouse gas release, and environmental degradation, are facing severe threats and consequences from unsustainable and unhealthy practices,
Pakistan is already doing much to stay safe and adopting policies like the green revolution to promote sustainability. But alone, Pakistan cannot fight against this monster of environmental and climate change; the whole world has to stride toward it to achieve success.