National Adaptation Plan 2023: A United Race Against The “Climate Clock”

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Environment

As she unveiled Pakistan’s first National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to build resilience in the face of the climate emergency, Climate Change and Environmental Coordination Senator Sherry Rehman emphasized, “the climate clock is ticking for all.”[1] It should come as no surprise then that the country’s first NAP, unanimously approved by the federal cabinet, necessitates a collaborative approach.

In the aftermath of the 2022 “mega-flood” which impacted approximately 33 million people, the need for action cannot be overestimated. To this end, the NAP is designed to be a “home-grown” effort that takes several local stakeholders on board.

Here is what you need to know about NAP 2023.

The Current Situation In Pakistan

The NAP lays out the current ground realities in Pakistan. Much of the conversation when it comes to climate change in Pakistan focuses on the 2022 floods. While the NAP acknowledges the aftermath, it is also useful in that it details longstanding trends, that are likely to escalate.

Current Situation in Pakistan - heat map

It details the rising temperatures across Pakistan, which are rising twice as fast as global temperatures, and water shortages, noting that according to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Pakistan will approach absolute water scarcity by 2025. The report details how rising sea levels don’t just impact lives, but also livelihoods as increasing sea levels impact the salinity of inland streams and thus impact local agriculture.

According to the NAP, these trends have been observed over several decades, and the overall situation is continuing to worsen. The report also links these changes to several costs that Pakistan has had to bear. On the one hand, it is detailed, that climate catastrophes like floods destroy infrastructure, and property, thereby exacting an economic cost. But the ultimate economic impact is exacerbated because the country’s growth capability is also stifled.

Simultaneously, as resources become scarce, there is an increase in competition and conflict, as communities struggle to survive.

The Vision Behind NAP 2023

The first-of-its-kind climate action plan is designed to set a precedent for Pakistan. Considering that the country is one of the worst impacted by the climate emergency, NAP sets out a broad vision of making Pakistan “climate resilient” and prioritizes “personal and national well-being”.

Vision of NAP Visual Representation

Keeping the systemic factors at play in mind, and acknowledging how communities in Pakistan have been impacted as well as the economy, the realization of the NAP rests on six pillars[2].

These are a pivot towards Green Jobs and Livelihoods, fostering Inclusive Growth and Social Equity, developing Sustainable Infrastructure and Services, and, prioritizing Environmental Conservation and Biodiversity Protection, Good Governance and Policy Alignment, and Responsible Corporate Practices.

The Path Forward

The NAP is meant to serve as a road map for future policy frameworks. And in light of the research compiled, sets out five priorities[3] that need to be addressed in a bid to make Pakistan climate resilient.

First, is the agriculture-water nexus. The agricultural sector accounts for 20% of Pakistan’s GDP, and with the possibility of Pakistan facing absolute water scarcity in the not-too-distant future, it is imperative that new strategies are prioritized. These look to incentivize farmers to adopt sustainable practices, modernize irrigation and address the variability of water flow and supply.

The second priority is natural capital, which includes land, water, and air. Rising temperatures in Pakistan have impacted ecosystems and the natural resources that Pakistan is blessed with. This has threatened almost 13-15% of the country’s per capita wealth. Thus, the NAP maintains that pivoting towards sustainable management that will preserve our land and water quality is essential.

The Path Forward

The third priority is urban resilience. Population growth coupled with climate-related changes and a lack of resources has meant that Pakistan continues to observe rapid urbanization. However, urban centers have also been vulnerable to climate emergencies of late, with routine urban flooding threatening life, or bringing it to a standstill. Strategies to mitigate this will prioritize climate adoption practices across all levels of government, improving land regulation and moving towards green urbanization.

The fourth priority is human capital. In the floods last year alone, 33 million people were impacted. But the ongoing impacts precede and continue after the devastation. A rise in diseases, and malnutrition coupled with a lack of healthcare facilities, means that Pakistani citizens continue to suffer. Simultaneously, because of their quality of life, labor force productivity is also negatively impacted. The NAP posits that it is important to build climate resilience and preparedness amongst the population so that they can adapt to climate risks.

The final priority is disaster risk management (DRM). The report emphasizes a need to ‘Build Back Better’ and develop an understanding of risks based on early warning systems and data.

Ultimately, NAP 2023 is Pakistan’s “first-ever climate change plan”[4] and details the unprecedented ground realities that are facing Pakistan along with how they could worsen. But, it is also a roadmap for the country’s future, and an attempt to make Pakistan a lot more climate resilient. If adequately prioritized, the findings and recommendations included in the plan could ensure that Pakistan does not continue to suffer as it has.  


[2] NAP pg 29

[3] NAP pages 36-64



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