At the 4th Meeting of the Heads of the Ministers and Agencies of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Member States Responsible for Environmental Protection, which was virtually organized by India, Senator Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Climate Change, represented Pakistan. Minister Rehman emphasized the importance of the SCO’s potential role in achieving shared objectives for environmental sustainability and climate resilience during the meeting.
Additionally, she emphasized the importance of the SCO as a venue for member states to exchange views on this existential crisis, which is currently redefining global, regional, and national priorities and responses in the twenty-first century. “The sustainability of life on earth and the overall socioeconomic development of present and future generations are now under threat,” Minister Rehman said.
We all agree that constructive cooperation on bold climate and environmental issues is critical to actively move the needle and bridge the gap between the pledges and pipelines that we all make multilaterally, as well as the gap between ambitions and actions.”
Minister Rehman drew attention to Pakistan’s unique position as one of the ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, despite contributing less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are on the front lines of climate change, braving disastrous floods, unlivable heatwaves, and fast-melting glaciers,” said the Minister.
She highlighted the catastrophic floods that occurred in Pakistan in 2022, which inundated one-third of the country, impacted 33 million people, and caused over US$30 billion in economic losses and damages.
Minister Rehman also said that for Pakistan climate change has become a high priority on all ministerial agendas, and both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan are actively working to address climate change at the national and global levels.
“We have intensified our efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and implement large-scale nature-based interventions, as well as combat pollution. Despite the fact that our policies are aligned with SCO goals as well as by commitments made in the Paris Agreement, implementation of our collective plans fall short as the climate clock is ticking faster than we imagined,” the Minister said.
She shared details about Pakistan’s recent policies and programs, such as the National Clean Air Policy, National Hazardous Waste Management Policy, Clean Green Pakistan, Living Indus Initiative, the creation of new national parks and expansion of protected areas, and federal-level regulations on plastics.
In her address, Minister Rehman proposed several specific actions for the forum to consider, such as establishing a technical working group to exchange information and best practices on common issues, exploring opportunities for capacity building and knowledge sharing, and developing regional mechanisms for climate financing and carbon markets.
She also emphasized that SCO members could consider building a united voice in advocating for reforming the international financial architecture to transform access pathways that remain blocked for climate finance delivery to developing countries, especially those on the frontlines of accelerated climate stress.
The Minister emphasized that the SCO is a crucial multilateral forum for cooperation and collaboration, and Pakistan remains committed to engaging with it to create momentum in climate action.
She also mentioned that Pakistan has championed the cause for climate justice multilateralism at COP27 by leading the negotiations on establishing the Loss & Damage Fund as the Chair of G77+ China, which is a demonstration of goals successfully achieved when countries collaborate for joint public goals.
Additionally, she expressed her belief that SCO members can contribute to future dialogues on capitalizing the Loss & Damage Fund under the UNFCCC’s umbrella.
The Minister concluded, “Climate Change knows no borders. The need for effective utilization of this forum by leveraging our respective comparative advantages and sharing experiences and working towards our common goal of mitigating and adapting to climate change is the need of the hour. We must act now to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”
The meeting was led by a ministerial delegation from the SCO member states of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.
In a joint statement, the SCO members emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation in the field of information exchange, conservation of biological resources, adaptation to climate change, and mitigation of its consequences.
They reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and the Paris Agreement, and emphasized the need to ensure a holistic approach to combating climate change.