At the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan, hosted by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif urged participants to secure global support and forge long-term partnerships to help the country face the challenges of the devastating floods of 2022.
To help the people and government of Pakistan face the enormous challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation in the wake of the floods, a conference was held to bring together governments, leaders from the public and private sectors, and members of civil society.
With Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at his side, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a plea for aid to meet the needs of the 33 million people who have been displaced by the worst flood disaster in Pakistan’s history.
In his speech, Shehbaz Sharif mentioned Pakistan’s Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework (4RF), a multisectoral strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction that takes into account the effects of climate change.
In 2022, devastating floods are estimated to have swamped one-third of the country, caused 15,000 fatalities and injuries, and displaced 8 million people. Over 4 million acres of farmland and more than 2 million homes were either destroyed or damaged. It is anticipated that nine million more people may be pushed into poverty as a direct result of these disasters.
The prime minister revealed that Pakistan had prepared a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) with assistance from the United Nations, the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Union, which estimated flood damages of more than US$14.9 billion, economic losses of more than US$15.2 billion, and reconstruction needs of more than US$16.3 billion.
He thanked Secretary-General Guterres profusely for his role in organising the conference and for his unwavering commitment to helping the people of Pakistan recover from the devastating floods.
He recalled how he and Guterres had visited flood-stricken areas of Sindh and Balochistan back in September, saying that the Pakistani people would never forget the UN Secretary-General’s kindness.
The question, as the prime minister put it, was how to proceed with pride and a sense of accomplishment while still ensuring one’s own survival.
According to Shehbaz Sharif, 2.6 million people, including one million girls, had their schooling interrupted because of the floods.
He emphasised the urgency of the ongoing relief efforts, saying, “We are racing against time.” Water drainage was an ongoing issue in some parts of Sindh.
He stated that the minimum requirement of $16.3 billion reflected the priority of recovery and reconstruction as outlined in the 4RF plan’s broad contours.
He remarked that the ability to bounce back from massive setbacks and provide a prosperous future for the people living there was essential.
He remarked, “Pakistan needs a new coalition of the willing to save lives,” and he urged the people of Pakistan to be patient and to stick together.
According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, millions of people in Pakistan were impacted by the recent floods, and significant damage was done to the country’s infrastructure and farmland.
He met men, women, and children staying in makeshift camps in flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan and recalled how heartbreaking it was to see them struggling in the wake of climate-induced disaster.
He said that the United Nations (UN) is “at the forefront of addressing the catastrophe in Pakistan” and that the UN has placed an emphasis on improving the country’s infrastructure. When disaster strikes, the United Nations will be there to help.
He called for massive aid to address the climate crisis, noting that South Asians are 15 times more likely to perish as a result of the effects of natural disasters.
While one-seventh of Pakistan’s population was affected by a major climate disaster, Foreign Minister Bilawal expressed hope for international support and assistance.
He emphasised the widespread flooding in Pakistan and the need for the international community to support Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for rebuilding after the flood.
In a video message, French President Emanuel Macron expressed his country’s and his people’s solidarity with Pakistan during this difficult time.
To help the people of Pakistan recover from the devastation caused by the recent floods, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged his country’s support. He stated that 15 planes and 2 ships were sent with humanitarian aid supplies to help the people of Pakistan who were affected by the recent flooding.
He emphasised the importance of making concerted efforts and working together to address the climate crisis, and he noted that Turkiye was still in contact with the Pakistani government.
The Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Stre, issued a video statement in which he stated that Pakistan had sustained unprecedented damage as a result of the disaster.
According to him, the international community should work together to combat the threat of climate change and aid those who have been affected by natural disasters like the recent floods.
He assured the audience that Norway would keep contributing to the international effort.
Calling the conference a “timely initiative,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that 2022 was a challenging year for the world because of the pandemic and the worst flood to hit Pakistan, putting stress on the most vulnerable people.
She described the magnitude of the devastation caused by the floods as “enormous,” with millions of people still under water months later and a lack of food for the children.
She explained that the purpose of the conference was to approve a bold strategy to aid Pakistan’s journey to recovery.
Foreign Policy Advisor to the Swiss Federal Council Ignazio Cassis urged the international community to help Pakistan.
According to him, climate change is a worldwide threat that calls for worldwide response.
He expressed appreciation to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for hosting the meeting, and he remembered how the Swiss government had helped Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods by sending an assistance and rehabilitation team.