14 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Pakistan foresees water crisis, asks UN to monitor Indus pact

Ambassador Munir Akram says extreme temperatures melting Pakistan’s glaciers at an alarming rate, together with heavier monsoons, massive foods

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to United Nations in New York Ambassador Munir Akram called for strict implementation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty – a World Bank-negotiated water-distribution agreement between Pakistan and India – as he underscored the need to address the looming water crisis in the South Asian region.

“Increasing water demand, coupled with climate change impacts, creates the potential for trans-boundary water disputes in several parts of the world,” he told the 15-member UN Security Council’s high-level debate on the impact of climate change and food insecurity on international peace and security. “Pakistan attaches high priority to the strict implementation of the Indus treaty,” he stressed during the day-long debate.

‘Urgent action is required to preserve Himalayan glaciers’

As many as 90 countries took part in the debate, convened by Guyana, a South American country which is the president of the Security Council for February. Ambassador Munir Akram said that Pakistan aims to reinvigorate the Indus River basin — the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world, which provides food security to over 225 million people. To this end, he said that Pakistan has launched the multi-dimensional Living Indus projects.

Noting that the disputes over water – at the state, sub-national and local-community levels – were rising, he said that competing claims to agricultural and animal pastures, especially in Sub-Sahara and Central Africa, were being exploited by terror groups and criminal gangs. “The scramble for exploitation of fisheries and fishing rights, and potentially for seabed minerals and resources, is causing increased friction between neighboring coastal countries,” he pointed out.

“Addressing the looming water crisis will be critical,” he said, adding extreme temperatures were melting Pakistan’s glaciers at an alarming rate, and together with heavier monsoons, lead to massive foods, like the 2022 epic floods which devastated the country, causing damage amounting to over $30 billion. “Urgent action is required to preserve the Himalayan glaciers and adapt to the impacts of global warming,” he told delegates from around the world.

When addressing climate change, securitizing the issue in the development agenda must be avoided, the Pakistani representative said. He also said that the already scarce funding should not be diverted from development and climate change actions to security-related approaches. “Scarcity is the mother of most conflicts,” he said, adding that the best means of conflict prevention was sustainable development, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate goals.

“Unless the commitments made at COP-28 and other conferences are implemented, it will become almost impossible to achieve either the goals of climate change or the development goals.” He said that the Security Council could make a singular contribution to both the climate and development goals – by endorsing the commitments made on climate change and sustainable development to transform these into binding obligations.

Antonio Guterres calls on states to break deadly links between conflict, climate and food insecurity

Opening the debate, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on member states to act now to break the deadly links between conflict, climate and food insecurity. He said that the climate chaos and food crises were serious and mounting threats to global peace and security. “It is only right that they are addressed by this council,” he said, adding that the climate disasters and conflict both inflame inequalities, imperil livelihoods, and force people from their homes.

The UN chief said that he was dismayed that the world was teeming with examples of the devastating relationships between hunger and conflict. “One such situation is Gaza, where no one has enough to eat,” he said. Of the 700,000 hungriest people in the world, four in five inhabit that tiny strip of land. Furthermore, he said that the climate disasters add another dimension to the suffering in many places. “All 14 countries that are most at risk from climate change are experiencing conflict, with 13 also facing humanitarian crisis,” he said.