The Government of Pakistan, under the auspices of Planning Commission, in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has organized a two days workshop on “Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)– at Marriott hotel, Islamabad. The workshop is being organized under the ongoing National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP) being jointly implemented by the Government of Pakistan and IUCN. The workshop aims to build an understanding of SEA, basic concept, SEA process and integration of SEA into planning. The main objective of the workshop is to explore application of SEA to existing Pakistani planning processes and bring colleagues from planning departments and environment section/department/agencies together to support SEA pilot application under NIAP. The participants of the workshop include government officials, civil society representatives, lawmakers, statisticians, and academia. Workshop is being conducted by experts from the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA). Mr. Rob Verheem, Deputy Director, International Cooperation and Dr. Bobbi Schijf, Technical Secretary International Cooperation.
The workshop was formally inaugurated by Mr. Javed Malik, Secretary, Ministry of National Disaster Management. In his address he talked about the importance of creating awareness about environmental issues like global warming and climate change. He mentioned that according to the World Bank assessment report, environmental degradation costs the country 365 billion rupees every year in the form of health issues, agricultural degradation, etc. He highlighted that so far implementation of the environmental laws is rather weak at the provincial level but in the post devolution scenario the situation is expected to improve considerably.
He stressed that since private sector is the engine of growth of the economy, it needs to be made sure that all these initiatives comply with the environmental framework of the country. He further stressed that in order to address issues cumulatively, tools like SEA will come in very handy and need to be introduced in the development planning sector of the country. He commended the efforts of planning commission, Ministry of National Disaster Management, provincial EPAs and P&D departments, Netherlands’ Commission for Environmental Assessment and IUCN for initiating NIAP and promoting the introduction of SEA in the country. He appreciated participation of officers from the planning and environment departments at the federal and provincial level since they are the key to implementing this programme successfully. He assured of his support to the programme and wished all the participants a successful workshop.
Mr. Rob Verheem, from NCEA appreciated the role of planning commission saying that it is wonderful opportunity to pilot SEA in Pakistan in context of the Framework for Economic Growth. He further explained how the workshop is designed to sensitize the participant and explore ways of integrating SEA more effectively in Pakistan.