Sea erosion threat puts coastal communities at risk

Sea erosion threat puts coastal communities at risk
AFP

KARACHI: A consultative workshop to discuss findings and debate a national assessment report on 'Coastal Erosion in Pakistan' on Wednesday highlighted various concerns including manmade development and climate change effects, leading to sea erosion  on alarming proportions.
To cope with the situation, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Mangroves for the Future (MFF) has initiated a two-year regional project "Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal Communities, Ecosystems, and Economies to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Erosion". 
The project focuses on two countries - Thailand and Pakistan - and is being implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Coordinating Body of the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) in collaboration with National Partner Institutions in Thailand and Pakistan.
In order to review and finalise the draft of National Assessment Report on Coastal Erosion in Pakistan with input from relevant stakeholders, IUCN organised a workshop at a local hotel in Karachi, in collaboration with Climate Change Division of the Government of Pakistan.
Chief Secretary Sindh Sajjad Saleem Hotiana was the chief guest on the occasion. The purpose of the workshop was to review and finalise the draft of the assessment report with input from relevant stakeholders.
The Project aims to develop practical knowledge in climate change adaptation, assess needs and gaps of the participating countries, and prioritise interventions for strengthening the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities against coastal erosion. It will also prioritise needs in legislation, policies, institutional structures and capacities for addressing coastal erosion in Pakistan and Thailand. The financial contribution by MFF is US $200,000, paired with a planned co-financing of approximately US $200,000 from KOICA Yeosu Project (for the wider COBSEA region) and US $40,000 as an in-kind contribution from UNEP COBSEA.
In Pakistan, Climate Change Division, Islamabad is acting as the National Focal Agency for supervising and guiding the implementation of the project activities through IUCN Pakistan.
Climate change is an emerging challenge with far reaching consequences for the developing countries - in particular their coastal areas, which run the highest risk of being drastically impacted by climate-change-related extreme events, such as sea level rise, flooding and erosion.
"Given the scale of the adverse impacts of climate change, intensive collaborative efforts are needed to promote sustainable management of coastal resources, as no single initiative or agency can address all of these issues single-handedly," said Chief Secretary Hotiana during his address. "In order to respond effectively to the threat of sea erosion, scientific and environmental aspects of sea-level rise and its induced coastal erosion need to be fully studied and understood," he added.
"I hope the preparation of national assessment report on coastal erosion will play a catalyst's role in drawing attention of coastal stakeholders and policy makers to this emerging problem in Pakistan and will strengthen regional collaboration," noted Hotiana.
Dr Wong Poh Poh, Consultant UNEP-COBSEA, stated in his presentation: "The National Assessment Report will not only address coastal erosion but will also be a major document and reference in the development of new plans, policies, strategies and programmes on integrated coastal management." 
Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General Forests, Government of Pakistan, highlighted the significance of the National Assessment Report, describing it as a crucial document that would pave the way for practical strategies and a road map for addressing coastal erosion.
Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Regional Director Asia, said: "IUCN has been making steady efforts towards planting trees along the vulnerable coasts across the region, as mangroves act as a major protection against sea level rise in low-lying inland areas." Kabraji also underscored the need for conducting studies on the extent of tree-coverage required along the coasts prior to the plantation of mangroves.
IUCN Pakistan Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema said, "IUCN has been taking necessary steps towards promoting institutional collaboration at the national and regional levels - and is actively engaged in the conservation of coastal mangrove ecosystem in collaboration with provincial forest departments of Sindh and Balochistan contributing to minimising the negative impacts of climate change- such as coastal erosion and sea erosion." He concluded.

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