Pillar 15
Environmental Sustainability

Key Indicator : Greenhouse gas emission, Renewable energy, Global climate risk index, Investment in green energy and infrastructure, Particulate matter (2.5) concentration, Baseline water stress, Red list index, Forest cover loss, Wastewater treatment, Clean ocean water, Number of environmental treaty ratifications, Adequate protection for nature, Production impact on the environment and nature, Total protected area coverage, Proportion of key biodiversity areas covered by protected areas

The significance of the natural environment in becoming an attractive tourism destination cannot be undervalued.[237] Pakistan is one of those countries which is endowed with natural beauty but sustaining that natural environment is another matter. In this regard, the country ranks 73 with a score of 3.9 in the T&T Development Report 2021.

The country is part of 22 ratified environmental treaties from 1971 to 2015.[238] In 2020, Pakistan ranked 142 out of 180 countries, with a score of 33.1 under the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).[239] But its rank descended to 176 with a score of 24.60 in 2022.[240]

Air quality is considered the major environmental threat affecting public health worldwide.[241] Unfortunately, Pakistan has ranked 180 with a score of 5.70 in the EPI index, which shows the worst level of air quality in the country, and in the case of particular matter concentration, the country ranks at 174.

Recent figures show that the baseline water stress for Pakistan is 4.05, and it is ranked 14th out of the 17 countries with extremely high risk (>80%).[242] The projected score for water stress under the Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario paints a grim picture as well, with the score predicted to reach 4.42 in 2030 and 4.48 in 2040.[243] A 2021 update by the UN on the progress of the level of water stress shows Pakistan at a critical level (the highest >100%).[244]

With continuously reducing water resources, the previous government assured to build dams and to

find a solution to water shortage[245] and has worked towards water conservation by building check dams, developing command areas for small and mini dams,[246] and initiating other projects such as lining watercourses across Pakistan to decrease water losses.[247] According to the Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security, the previous government built 735 small and big dams in the last three years.[248]

Presently, threatened species in Pakistan are 8.2%, with species mostly falling under the vulnerable category, followed by species in endangered and critically endangered categories.[249]

The Global Risk report 2022, also puts Pakistan as one of the particularly vulnerable countries to climate change and predicted that worsening of the weather will trigger displacement and migration of the people.

The previous government considered environmental conservation to be at the core of its governance and talked in detail about climate change and green growth measures as well as initiated projects to develop environmental sustainability.[250] Pakistan is leading the way in ecosystem restoration with its Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project (TBTTP).[251] Since the inception of PTI’s billion tree tsunami Project in KPK, over 348, 400 acres of land have been restored.[252] Pakistan’s tree cover is among the region’s lowest, with total forest cover within 2% to 5%,[253] but according to the figures for 2019, the forest cover has increased to 5.01%.[254] The government has vowed to plant 10 billion trees under the four-year project (2019-2023), with a cost of around PKR 125 billion,[255] to mitigate the impact of climate change and to boost the nation’s renewable natural capital resources.[256]

TBTTP has also resulted in the creation of jobs for the protection of natural forests, for around 85,000 daily wagers.[257] Moreover, the first-ever institutional National Parks Service is currently underway in Pakistan, intending to create 5,000 nature-based jobs for the youth who would be trained as guardians and custodians of nature.[258]

In Pakistan, between 5% to 10% of wastewater is treated before it is released back into the ecosystem.[259] The government plans to introduce indigenous technology for wastewater treatment in major cities.[260] Of the total catch, 39.3% is either from overexploited or collapsed fish stock.[261] The government looked to invest in the fisheries industry to sustain the fish stock through developing infrastructure and implementing best practices. In 2021, to preserve biodiversity and to create better livelihoods for the fisherfolk community, the government aimed to increase its Marine Protected Areas (MPA) by 10% by 2023.[262]

In 2019, the government launched the Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI), a city/tehsil and neighborhood-level index which aims to rank cities/tehsils and neighborhoods according to their cleanliness and greenery. The performance indicators for each component include safe drinking water, solid waste management, liquid waste management/hygiene, plantation, and total sanitation.[263]

Contrarily, the effects of climate change and global warming are catastrophic. Over the recent past, the percentage of glaciers melting has increased resulting in more floods in the country.[264] This has consequently swept away roads, bridges, and hotels.[265] It has not only affected the local people’s lives, but businesses and damaged the tourist destination, especially in the north of the country.[266] The PM aide for tourism and sports had assured that the government will focus on the utilisation of resources to restore these damaged tourist destinations.[267]

The Global Risk report 2022, also puts Pakistan as one of the particularly vulnerable countries to climate change and predicted that worsening of the weather will trigger displacement and migration of the people.[268] It can be seen in the current condition of the country how the flood has affected more than 33 million people.[269]

The previous government understood the significance of the natural environment which needs to be sustained if Pakistan wishes to become and retain its future attractiveness as a tourist destination.