EU’s Climate Resilience Partnership in Pakistan

Written by: Engr Asghar Hayat

Pakistan, with its diverse landscape, is grappling with the adverse effects of climate change, from floods and droughts to heatwaves. The melting Himalayan glaciers have worsened the situation, impacting vital rivers. The devastating floods in 2022 directly affected over 30 million people, resulting in loss of lives, infrastructure damage, and widespread displacement.

Despite being a relatively minor contributor to global warming, Pakistan is witnessing a significant increase in carbon emissions linked to fossil fuel use. The country’s greenhouse gas emissions account for less than 1% of the global total, with per capita emissions at 2 tonnes per year, less than half the global average. However, Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable nation to climate change, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.

Recognizing the urgent need for assistance, the European Union (EU) has been a leader in global climate action. In the aftermath of the 2022 floods, the EU released over €30 million in humanitarian aid, supporting emergency relief operations and deploying expert teams to the affected areas.

As part of the Team Europe Initiative, a collaborative endeavor involving the EU, Germany, France, and Italy, a groundbreaking climate initiative has been initiated in Punjab’s urban centers. The joint initiative, titled ‘Punjab Urban Water and Wastewater Governance and Services Improvement,’ aims to allocate €179 million over six years to address urgent water and sanitation challenges in Faisalabad and Lahore while enhancing climate resilience.

This project, funded through a combination of EU grants and a soft loan from the Agence Française de Développement (AfD), focuses on improving water and sanitation services. The plan includes installing 200 kilometers of new water supply pipes, providing 55,000 new connections, enhancing capacities, increasing water treatment capacity by 135,000 cubic meters per day, and strengthening urban water governance.

EU Ambassador Dr. Riina Kionka emphasized Punjab’s pivotal economic role, contributing 54% to Pakistan’s GDP. She highlighted persistent water and sanitation challenges, reaffirming the EU’s commitment to supporting Pakistan in improving resilience to climate change. The initiative aligns with the EU’s dedication to promoting green inclusive growth, a priority under the EU Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan.

The representative of the French Ambassador underscored France’s commitment to prioritizing climate change. Since the Geneva Conference on a “Resilient Pakistan,” France has committed to enhancing cooperation on climate change, with 97% of AFD financing benefiting climate-related initiatives. The water and sanitation partnership with the EU exemplifies this commitment, aiming to mobilize expertise toward climate-resilient solutions.

The initiative aims to improve access to drinking water and sanitation services for 400,000 individuals. By installing new water supply infrastructure and strengthening urban water governance, the project marks a crucial step toward sustainable development and climate resilience.

International collaboration, exemplified by the EU and its partners, is crucial in addressing climate change challenges faced by vulnerable nations like Pakistan. The joint initiative in Punjab reflects a commitment to sustainable solutions, representing a significant stride toward building climate resilience and ensuring a better quality of life for the people and businesses in Faisalabad and Lahore. It serves as a beacon of hope for nations grappling with the impacts of climate change, emphasizing the importance of collective efforts in securing a sustainable future.

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