The “Clean and Green Pakistan Campaign” for decreasing climate change in Pakistan have been launched by 400 students from 19 universities of Pakistan including Multan, Layyah, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, DI Khan and Peshawar and youth from district Layyah.
The announcement was made in a Youth Peace Conference held in Government College University Lahore, by a youth development organization, Bargad and Population Association of Pakistan (PAP) in collaboration with Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC). The mega-youth peace conference also has partners like International organizations OXFAM and Right Here Right Now.
The Youth Peace Conference was inaugurated with debates on youth development on peace-building in Punjab as per UN Resolution on Peace and Security.
Punjab Youth Affairs Minister Jahangir Khanzada, Bargad’s Chairperson and economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali, Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin Chairperson PHEC, Dr. Hassan Amir Shah Vice Chancellor GCU, MPA Nabila Hakim Ali Khan (MPA) and youth representatives Prashant Singh from Ghotki, Sadia from Layyah and Zeeshan were among the speakers of the conference. Salma Butt moderated the proceedings of the conference.
Minister Jahangir Khanzada said, Punjab, said that Youth policy 2012 was introduced in Punjab for the first time. Youth empowerment programs like Plan X, laptops, Scholarships through an endowment fund, interest-free loans, foreign exposure visits, and e-rozgar scheme in Punjab are few examples to quote.
Dr. Nizamuddin said that government has to prioritize youth in its policies and initiatives. He further added that according to the recent survey around 43% of population is below 20 years in Pakistan. There is a dire need to harness this youth bulge in Pakistan. He further said referring to a research that 80 % of violence was related to youth in one way or the other. To address emotional, social, psychological, physical, and economic needs of youth structural changes in our system. They need decent jobs, education and playing grounds.
Dr. Kaiser Bengali said to students that if they want to realize the full potential of life they have to go beyond their studies.
MPA Ms. Nabila Hakim Ali Khan said that 64% population of youth needs representation at all forums including legislature and political parties so that their problems can be addressed.
Prof Dr. Hassan Amir Shah advised students that they should not involve in any extremist ideas and negative tendencies. He said that student societies such as Debates, Drama, Quiz, Environment etc. must be replicated in all educational institutions throughout Pakistan.
MNA Romina Khurshid Alam in the plenary session of the peace conference briefed about working of Young Parliamentarians Forum.
Three parallel sessions held on (i) Peacebuilding and youth bulge in Pakistan, (ii) Youth actions for climate change mitigation, and (iii) Foundations for a new student politics in Pakistan.
The speakers included Prof. Dr. Awais Piracha Director Academic Programs Western Sydney University, Australia; Farhan Khalid, Kashif Islam, Asad Malik, and Syed Ali Husnain in session on climate change. Seher Afsheen moderated the session.
The speakers told that Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, that makes it 12th most vulnerable in the world. The country is already facing issues like water shortages and ongoing degradation of agricultural land. Climate change is adding to existing problems of Pakistan. In Punjab, 50 % land is cultivated using water from rivers and groundwater. Water in Punjab’s rivers is made up of glacier melts.
Glaciers in the Himalaya are melting and if they melt at the same rate they will be disappearing by the year 2035. Per capita, water availability in Pakistan is very low at 1756 m 3 /year/person as compared to the global average of more than 7000 m 3 /year/person.
During the session, results from a survey of 150 Union Council local officials of Lahore ware also shared on awareness of officials about climate change. According to the survey, 53 % respondents were not aware of the phenomenon of climate change and half of the local officials claimed that they are aware of climate change, but they have no knowledge beyond the phrase climate change. It was recommended to start Climate change awareness-raising campaigns.