Environmental changes : Biggest threat to Pakistan’s economy

Secretary General PTEA argues that environmental changes are continuously affecting food and energy demand in the world. In light of the growing population and related increased food and energy demand in Pakistan, there is a need to develop long-term policies at the government level to fight hunger and stabilize the energy supply. These key issues play an important role in the country’s economic stability.


The country’s most crucial challenges have resulted from climate change’s impacts – floods, heat waves, droughts, crop losses, and epidemics. The frequency of all such disasters has increased rapidly over the past couple of decades, taking an unprecedented toll on the country’s economy as the annual monetary cost of environmental degradation alone is equivalent to an estimated 4.3 percent of GDP.

Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries that bear the brunt of climate change. It has negatively impacted production factors, causing a decrease in the marginal productivity of capital and total aggregate output. This has strongly affected long-run equilibrium growth. Despite the global impact in general, climate change has been most detrimental to the global south.

Pakistan has faced overwhelming losses due to floods that have negatively impacted the infrastructure and agriculture sector in Pakistan. During the 2010-11 floods, consequences worsened due to the massive construction of buildings and settlements on flood plains, causing mass destruction of capital stock. This devastating flooding eroded 6 percent of our GDP. Since 2010, five consecutive floods have resulted in more than $25 billion of economic loss in damages to different sectors like agriculture, irrigation, public infrastructure, health, and educational facilities. Industries associated with cotton, the country’s main cash crop, are among the most affected.

Read more: Broken Bridges: The climate change dilemma in Pakistan

Pakistan, currently the fifth-most populous country in the world, has made significant progress in agriculture. A partner of the Green Revolution in the 1960s, it is now a food surplus and net exporter country with considerable agriculture, water, and energy potential. At the same time, Pakistan has not realized the full potential of its agricultural productivity because of limited financial resources and inconsistent domestic policy.

Beyond all of this, climate change will significantly disrupt Pakistan’s agricultural sector and potential. From 2000 to 2019, Pakistan was ranked by the Global Climate Risk Index as the eighth-highest country affected by climate change. The country is vulnerable to climate disasters threatening thousands of lives and billions of dollars in the agricultural sector, infrastructure, and economy.

Future climate change & expected consequences for Pakistan

According to Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery organization (GFDRR), the temperature will increase by 1.4 to 3.7°C in Pakistan’s south and coastal regions by the 2060s. Rainfall forecasts vary from region to region and season to season. Heavy rainfalls may increase in proportion, resulting in severe damage to infrastructure and the agriculture sector particularly.

Environmental changes are continuously affecting food and energy demand in the world. In light of the growing population issue and related increased food and energy demand in Pakistan, there is a need to develop long-term policies at the government level to fight hunger and stabilize the energy supply. These key issues play an important role in the country’s economic stability. The future framework will help address and mitigate the possible effects of climate change on food and energy in context with their demand and supply.

Food security framework

A considerable number of developing countries have successfully achieved the goal of food security. There is no doubt that a successful food security policy has three essential characteristics, including political stability, good governance, and strong economic growth. Ensuring food sustainability under climate change will play an important role in social welfare and environmental security by improving economic and ecosystem stability.



Ensuring food security through mitigation of climate change: Assessments of climate change risks, susceptibility, and improving and implementing early warning systems, weather forecast systems, and food security plans in response to environmental challenges is necessary, especially in a coordinated manner with national and international organizations.

Integration of climate change aspects into food policies: Climate change concerns should be integrated into food security policies and programs to increase the resilience of vulnerable groups and food systems to climate change, emphasizing adaptation to climate change as a major concern and objective for all farmers and food producers, especially small-scale producers.

Read more: US issues additional $10M for food insecurity in Pakistan

Mobilization of political will: Many countries have achieved the goal of sustainable food production, and they fight hunger by giving priority to this issue. However, there are still other countries that either has not been successful through efforts or did not make a framework and action plan. Therefore, the political will should be mobilized for food security.

Building institutions: Effective institutions are signs of good governance. Such institutions should ensure the contribution of agriculture and rural areas in sustainable development and food production and build people’s capacities, giving due consideration to gender and nutrition-sensitive perspectives.

Increase research opportunities: Research activities should be enhanced with improvement in information collection and sharing by increasing international cooperation and public and private investment in research.

Improve food chain process: Efficient food chain system should be made to reduce losses due to post-harvest. In addition, make an effective strategy for food waste in a sustainable manner.

Energy security framework

Generally, energy security refers to the amount of energy consumption taken from renewable internal means; thus, it is not imported. Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and frequency and intensity of extreme events will ultimately affect energy production, supply, and consumption. Energy is linked with economic growth, water consumption, land use, use of goods and services, transportation, and population growth.

Climate change will likely determine the amount of energy consumed and our ability to produce electricity and deliver it reliably. In the future, the share of oil and natural gas will decline, while the share of renewable and nuclear energy will be increasing by 2030. The share of coal is expected to be 19 percent in 2030 compared to 7.6 percent in 2005. The preferences for mitigating climate change are wide in the energy sector for both the production and supply aspects.

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National energy policies: National energy policies, particularly renewable energy policies, including planning for excess capacity, the projection to maximize the utilization of renewable energy sources, and the building of reliable statistical databases, are needed to be made.

Promotion of renewable energy: The increased use of renewable energy should be part of the development program, raising political commitment to its promotion. It will require more political will and commitment to successfully implement these energy plans.

Special policy packages: Governments should apply specific policy packages and tax incentives to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

 Azizullah Goheer is a Certified Director CCG and a Certified project management professional PMP. He is presently serving as the Secretary-General of PTEA. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Sustainable Textile Asia Region (STAR) and has previously worked with the Government of Punjab as a consultant.

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