Water, plain and simple

I recently experienced an “Ahaaan!” moment, a refreshing insight into the energy, climate change, green economy (ECGE) nexus which for a long time has been labelled as a carbon management problem. I would like to confess that while taking an online carbon finance course from the best environmental schools in the world, I found it hard to apply to the ECGE problems in Pakistan especially when we contribute such a minuscule amount of carbon compared to the world but are most at risk in terms of climate change vulnerability.   The “Ahaaan!” moment came thanks to Adil Najam’s  brilliant interpretation of the ECGE nexus. Pakistan’s  natural calamities in the recent few years whether attributed to climate change or not have all revolved around water. So when Adil Najam makes the point that we might not mitigate climate change but we must adapt,  and that “water is to adaptation as carbon is to mitigation”, I think he has hit the nail on the head by merging the ECGE nexus with national security ,energy management and food security issues  in “water management”. One needs an open eye and analytical mind to put all the pieces of the puzzle in order. Extreme weather events in Pakistan have mostly revolved around water and include calamities like  floods of 2010, 2013, drought hit area of Thar, torrential rains in the recent past etc. Such climate change crisis have led to breakdown of critical systems like the economy, food, energy generation, water supply,  and health issues. Adil Najam makes a critical point when he states that water is the big new frontier in the battle of climate change and energy governance.While carbon holds the central position in the climate change mitigation and energy management issues through carbon offsetting programs, water is one of the key challenges/answers to adaptation. Adaptation would therefore mean an effective water management system. Adaptation makes much more sense to us in Pakistan as we are likely to ignore the mitigation challenges.  As adaptation by definition, is local, let me quote an example from a research study that I am undertaking which shows the challenges in adaptation development that is linked with climate change. I am doing a research study on the energy crisis issues in urban Pakistan households and a theme that keeps appearing alongside is the water stress. The availability of water and its usage has become unreliable. That is one adaptation challenge being faced by people in Pakistan due to climate change crisis and exacerbated by the energy crisis. Now let’s view the picture from another angle and we see the same issues emerging.  While load shedding has been talked about as the most crucial issue, water scarcity and water related calamities continue to make headlines alongside.  Why? Because now an adequate energy supply integrated with water provides adequate food supply and therefore a harmonious nation. It is not just energy but water that influences the security, existence and economic growth of a nation. Pakistan has always experienced water scarcity and unreliable water supply issues hits the energy generation  affecting the economic growth, food production and food security (what good is the largest irrigation-canal system  laid out in the world if there is no energy and water to be supplied to the fields) and with it the national security An effective water management system is also crucial to the national security where water crisis is equated at par with the problem of terrorism.  That is why it is extremely important that a Consensus on the construction of dams also needs to be reached amongst provinces on to improve water security and address water crisis.

This entry was posted in Blackouts, climate change, Energy, Infrastructure, Loadshedding, Sustainability, Utilities, Water Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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