Decades of decadence (on Climate Change) -DAWN

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Institutional inertia is grappling our existence if only we could turn cognizance to it. We are being strangled and we are hardly breathing if only we could pay heed to it. The climate crisis is not in the offing, it is rather horrendously happening if only we could lay sense to it. Our institutional decadence has climaxed if only we make this confession timely.

The history of climate affair with us has been a sob tale of low priority, miscalculated assertions and ill-placed policies. At times, we find the bygone past more fascinating than the fast becoming future in terms of clarity of thought and sensibility of approach. Long dating back to the times of National Conservation Strategy unto the Pakistan Climate Change Act 2017, we are now having as many environmental laws, policies, regulations, action plans and discourse papers as we are entirely clueless what we are up to! There is Dickens’s affluence of everything and yet there is nothing.

At the cross national and gross provincial levels, there is disoriented absurdity which comes in the forms of silos workings of the environmental institutions. The chronic governance structure is superimposing policies just for the sake of policies in our suffocating governance structure. No one knows who is doing what and more tragically what needs to be done. The provincial Environmental Protection Agencies are at large making up their own meanings of serious terms such as climate change, climate action and ecosystem restoration. They are chasing the wrongdoers in the brown environment while having no institutional or professional capacities, whatsoever, to focus on the green and now even blue chapters of environment. The mere regulatory functions are distorting the whole climate narrative and making confusion worse confounded.

The Federal EPA is limited either by design or by chance which has turned helpless around the onslaught of climate change. The National Climate Change Policy 2012 and, perhaps, the forthcoming National Adaptation Plan do give much liberty to the Ministry of Climate Change to exercise its domain in the provinces in this climate affair, but it seems that it too is limited by resources as in a political economy, environment is never a priority. The element of institutional outlay and outreach are stopping the Federal Ministry in casting a causatively critical role in this climate thing.

The inter- and intra-institutional disconnect is precipitating rather than shrinking. Even for the ten billion tsunami tree project, there is sever institutional disconnect and lack of coordination amongst departments at the provincial levels such as Environment, Agriculture, Forest and Water Sector. Moreover the question of public disconnect is visibly increasing which is the fallout of sick governance structure. The oscillations of public-government disconnect are having pressure on quality public service delivery. This has enhanced the challenges on realising the concept of community involvement and ownership which is so wisely placed in the tsunami project but which is so miserably translated into action.

What exactly needs to be done is to kick off with the reorganisation of institutions especially for managing the climate affair. The environmental institutions are living well below the survival lines what to speak of their being effective. They are poorly staffed, ill equipped, shortly guided, less funded or funded not at all and hugely overwhelmed with public pressure.

Secondly, environmental or climate paraphernalia in terms of fully equipped infrastructures are to be raised throughout the country. This may include weather stations, advanced warning system, hi-tech laboratories, observatories and a comprehensive layout of science and technology based approach. Even madness entails a method while climate thing is highly scientific and we are hugely manual. We need to ensure we are serious towards the climate affair and this will be exhibited in terms of huge funds flow in this sector, capacity building, institutionalisation of the triple helix model and introducing new management in the chronic public sector.

Lastly, keep babushahi away and let the professionals do their jobs!