The complex societal challenge of rapidly changing climate has become a priority agenda both at national and international level and it has been widely recognised that tackling such global challenge will require collaboration across disciplines and between nations, to build research capacity, advance knowledge, and generating potential sustainable solutions.
Academia, think tanks, civil society organizations, and other institutions who are involved in the production and communication of knowledge have a vital role in advancing data and research on climate change. Especially, academia remains unique to lead the cross sectoral implementation in providing an invaluable source of expertise in research and education on all areas including climate change. In addition to being widely considered as neutral and influential player, academia offer potential for credible and unbiased evidence to support the decision-making process.
Parliament as the representative of the people is uniquely placed to gather information from both departments and academia and facilitate informed laws and subsequent policy decisions while ensuring oversight of the departments and their performance. Therefore, parliaments can play a vital role for long-term sustainable strategic partnership to bring universities, governments and the communities they serve together in addressing pressing challenges and transforming societies.
In this regard, standing committee on climate change organized a one-day consultation in collaboration with Westminster Foundation for Democracy with academia. The objective of this consultation was to connect Experts and Academia with Standing Committee on Climate Change for making evidence-based policies.
Summary of the event:
The consultation started with the recitation of holy Quran followed by the national anthem. Honourable chairperson of standing committee of climate change Ms. Munaza Hassan, welcomed the chief guest: Honourable Speaker National Assembly Mr. Asad Qaisar, members of the committee, and the participants from various universities. While briefing the audience about Climate change committee’s goal of evidence bases policy though expert’s engagement, Ms. Hassan emphasised on the importance of citizen engagement and participation to foster a democratic system. Honourable Chair also extended her gratitude to the experts and think tanks for their participation in the seminar which will prove valuable in the future initiatives of committee towards Climate Change.
With this welcome note, seminar moved towards the introduction of climate change committee presented by CCC coordinator Mr. Waqar ul Shams. Mr. Shams explained the role of CCC and its initiative of legislative mapping of laws related to climate change. In his presentation, Mr. Shams elaborated various unique features of climate change committee’s website which allows citizen to file a public petition on a matter of importance, it also welcome experts to request a public hearing on a matter which may require urgent action. To encourage feedback or suggestions from the masses, the website provides a feedback form which can be submitted directly to the committee. He also explained committee’s process for engaging with the experts and incorporating their inputs for effective policy making.
After participants’ induction to the role of Climate change committee, its website, and citizen interaction mechanisms, the website was formally launched by the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly: Mr. Asad Qaisar.
While addressing to the participants, Honourable Speaker recognized their contributions and efforts for climate change and expressed the expectation of productive and far reaching outcomes from this consultation. He greatly appreciated CCC for being the pioneer of organizing engaging and interactive event with relevant experts for evidence-based policy and suggested that other committees should replicate and adopt the same approach.
After the comments of Honourable Speaker and launch of the website, participants were encouraged to share their suggestion on how this partnership could be enhanced for effective working of the committee and what challenges they face in contribution to protecting the climate.
Following are some main challenges and suggestion shared by academia:
- Lack of Public awareness on climate change was considered a major issue in addressing the broader problem of climate change. General attitude that climate change as not a public concern and lack of ownership towards climate was also mentioned. Absence of material on climate change in curriculum was considered an important factor for youth ignorance towards this global issue.
- Another aspect of awareness pointed towards lack of public knowledge regarding available legislation on climate change.
- The participants argued that existing policies and laws are not implemented and where implementation is done it lacks the mechanism for monitoring or evaluating the impact of a policy or law. It was discussed that currently there are no mechanisms to engaged with experts at the universities or for experts to engage with the committees to share their evidence-based research that can be used by committees for effective policy making.
- Participants shared their concern regarding over legislation and pointed towards the need for evaluation of a law or policy for its effectiveness and relevancy after a specific period of time.
- Climate change issues cannot be tackled as a separate issue hence, all other committees and institutions need to adopt integrated approaches for this collective effort.
- It was highlighted that due to different climate conditions each province faces different climate issues however, for the wider impact goals should be set at province level and should align with those set at federal level.
- Sustainability of such collaborative initiatives was discussed as a major issue in keeping these linkages alive over time.
- Enabling environment for research on climate change issued at university level was emphasised which could be promoted through allocating research grants.
- It was mentioned that parliament is not very welcoming towards the use of new technologies or methods for achieving its set goals.
- Various issues which contribute to climate change but have not been paid attention were also mentioned for example population, urbanization, land fill, land zoning, underground water, and out migration.
- CPEC was also discussed to have impact on the climate which needs urgent attention.
- Lack of legislation for eco-tourism (such as policy towards littering on tourist sites) was brought to the attention of the Climate change committee.
Besides these challenges, some very valuable suggestion given by the participants are as follow:
- Sub committees/groups should be formed to address specific issue related to climate change
- CCC website may include database of experts which should be publicly accessible for collaborating.
- All material relevant to climate change either policy, research, data, experts, or sub-committee details available in one place can add value to our collective effort of support climate change initiatives.
- Initiatives and progress made by previous committees should be made available on the CCC website
- Such consultations should be replicated at provincial level for maximizing the output
- CCC should include an e-journal on their website where relevant research should be published and made available to public.
- Committee may need to prioritize its meeting agenda as per the need of people
- There should be a defined monitoring and evaluation mechanism at committee level for evaluating the progress and impact of policy, workplans, and activities.
- A comparison of provincial progress on climate change may be added to CCC website the data then will support experts for conducting future research.
- Frequent awareness raining campaigns should be conducted at school, college, and university levels.
- Participation of youth including from rural areas must be made mandatory in the policy making process.
- Incentives, allowances, recognition should be ensured for climate change activists.
- Climate change initiatives taken either by NGOs, CSO, or any other relevant institutions should be owned by the parliament.
- Considering climate change issue cannot be treated as a stand-alone matter, an inter-ministerial taskforce may be formed for more collaborative approach.
- Regional collaborations are also important they can provide knowledge best international practices.
- Role of media in promoting climate change initiatives should be defined and publishing/broadcasting awareness messages should be made mandatory for all types of media.
- Policy for obtaining data from various departments, committees, and parliamentary institution may add value to the work of researchers in producing quality research.
With the end of suggestions and issues sharing session, the consultation was concluded by honourable Ms. Andaleeb Abbas she thanked all the participants for their dedication and commitment to contribute to this global issue. Ms. Abbas ended the session with her remarks that two important elements required to bring a change are will and the skill. We, as the parliament have the will and relevant experts like academia can provide the required skills and together goals of climate change can be achieved.