DAVOS, Switzerland: The Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman has said that “The geographies of vulnerability, those of us who live in warmer climates, are caught in a recovery trap. We are at the ground zero of climate stress as we live in an era of accelerated climate change which leads to extraordinary human suffering. My worry is that despite excellent progress made at a climate resilient recovery conference, we may not be able to rebuild one-third of the country before the next disaster hits us”.
The minister was speaking at the annual Pakistan Breakfast as the Chief Guest organized by the Pathfinder Group in Davos, Switzerland.
Sherry Rehman thanked the organizers for arranging the event annually on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting in Davos, allowing Pakistani policymakers to share their insights with the participants from all over the world in Davos.
— SherryRehman’sTeam (@SRehmanOffice) January 18, 2023
The minister praised the efforts of the prime minister and foreign minister for their leadership on the multilateral stage and exceeding the targets in Geneva during the Climate Resilient Pakistan conference, despite donor fatigue and other crises in the world.
“It gave us a sense of how successes can be achieved in times of extreme adversity, and what was a climate emergency. However, make no mistake because it is still a climate emergency in Pakistan, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us to bring the country back to its feet. The cameras have moved away, but the crisis prolongs. There are still 20 million people who need humanitarian assistance, and 8 million people are exposed to flood waters,” she said.
The federal minister highlighted that these disasters are not just acts of God, instead are the outcomes of prolonged anthropogenic activities – as these are man-made disasters and we shouldn’t deflect the responsibility by calling it an act of God alone.
The minister also spoke at a panel discussion titled ‘Investing in Nature’ organized by The Maryam Forum Foundation where she was joined by H.E Rania Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of the Government of Egypt, Sir Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development, Erik Berglöf, Chief Economist, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mastercard, USA.
The session was moderated by journalist Nik Gowing, founder of Thinking the Unthinkable and former BBC World News presenter.
Senator Sherry Rehman said that climate change and biodiversity are critical issues that require a scientific approach to guide our decisions, but current efforts have fallen short.
“There is an element of denialism still amongst corporate leaders and networks which shows our collective failure as we have not been able to take the public conversations to the required level. Every little island of rationality works, and every meeting today should be a call to action. Our models of business and government need to change for that critical mass that is needed to shift the needle on biodiversity loss and climate action because we are way off the mark,” she remarked.
Sherry Rehman urged that coalitions are needed to meet the climate action targets.
“We must build coalitions for climate action. So far, we have mostly been talking and working in silos due to the boundaries we have set on ourselves. Everyone is speaking about the individual actions they are taking but we need to move beyond that to a surface with achievable collective action targets and then pledge to actually meet them,” she stated.
The minister also highlighted that the climate financing needs of today are not being addressed by the 20th century international financial architecture as it was created for different challenges but it is outdated for the crises of the 21st century.
“We need a redesign of the entire Bretton Woods financial architecture and make climate financing agile and easily available for countries that are at the forefront of climate stress. If we don’t take collective and radical actions within this decade, what is happening in Pakistan will come to Davos someday but after 1/3 of the globe is living in the 19th century again that has bred from our lack of collective action,” she said.
Senator Sherry Rehman said that countries on the climate frontline face a recovery trap.
“We did well in Geneva in securing recovery funds that will help us in providing humanitarian assistance with our development partners because the humanitarian crisis is not over, and for also creating bankable projects for reconstruction. However, it is a race against time for us as we are caught in a recovery trap – the scale of reconstruction itself will take 3 years or more, and what happens if we face another natural disaster before the rebuilding even begins? We are in a clear arc of vulnerability, and we are working very hard to make sure that there is better preparedness and adaptation on the ground to avoid such a catastrophe in the future,” she remarked.