Sustainability Education- Need of the Hour

During the last few years, Pakistan has faced many man-made and natural disasters. It has been affected by floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes that has created a stressful society. Man-made critical infrastructure failure like the on going energy crisis has made matters worse. These complex socio-environmental issues have put Pakistan under a lot of stress. The society is in a traumatic state of mind. Presently, there is social inertia in Pakistan on issues like sustainable development, climate change, and energy efficiency. These types of issues cannot be overlooked  for long  without risking the irreparable and grave looses to socio-economic ecosystem of a country. No doubt, the need of the hour is to lessen the effects of all such disasters which unfortunately have been recurring too often and targeting the most precious asset of a country i.e its workforce. Continue reading

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Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing well by doing good

I came across a news item in the local newspaper where the President of Pakistan is commending an established company in oil and gas exploration industry of Pakistan for its stellar financial performance. The news item ends with an almost negligible mention of the said company’s “intended” contribution to the environment. This reminded me of Supreme Court’s notice last year to the oil and gas exploration businesses for non compliance of Corporate Social Responsibility . Today the same group is being lauded for its financial achievements at the cost of the environment and the society.  The news intrigued me to conduct an online search for Corporate Social Responsibility values (under which the company dedicates its resources for the social and environmental good) of the businesses in Pakistan and unfortunately found that businesses take CSR frivolously.  Why is it that businesses in Pakistan as in other developing countries fail to recognize CSR as an integral part of their standard operating procedures?  The answers are simple and as you will see, so vulnerable.

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Its not easy to make the “true” choice

It was a clear case of bashing. Rina Saeed Khan (RSK), an acitvitist for clean and renewable energy has always written commendable pieces about integrating economic development with environment but never before her piece invited such scathing comments as now. While news of coal fired power plants have been in the headlines recently portraying a healthy approach to solve the energy crisis, Rina’s article put that truth to test. She says it loud and clear that “There’s nothing clean about coal.” asking the government and the policy makers to “support clean energy before its too late.” What follows in the comments sections is the voice of a society whose priorities are hugely displaced.

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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”. Continue reading

Posted in Blackouts, climate change, Energy, Infrastructure, Loadshedding, Sustainability, Utilities, Water Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ghost of load shedding has returned!

“Let the sleepless nights begin”. Thus begins one of the many load shedding stricken tweets. Such tweets are rolling out faster than the speed of light. The ghost of load shedding has returned with all its might. Temperatures soaring to 40 degrees Celsius with power outages for more than 12 hours, sometimes, in one go, all seem too sadly familiar.  A year ago, as I had started this blog, documenting my thoughts on the energy crisis that has engulfed Pakistan, I was most excited to know what the newly elected government has in store for  us “too-naive-to-get-into-thinking load shedding-will-end-by-2014” public. Much has been accomplished, yet it is still not enough. The ghost just doesn’t seem to rest. It has reasons, very rightly so.

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Lahorization the sustainable way

It is interesting to hear my sister’s reaction in Houston when I tell her that I survive on my two wheeler bike for commute in Copenhagen. “How do you survive without a car?”  she often asks as I tell her cycle is the ubiquitous feature of Copenhagen landscape. One cannot hide but develop an enthusiasm for this city for the various pleasures of life it offers in the most simple and sustainable way. You can cycle your way for any work and I mean it any work. If the cycle is not there, an excellent integrated public transport system of buses, metros, trains await you. I am from Lahore which is jammed with honking cars, motor cycles, buses and a recently launched intra city metro bus enough to make your time out of the home a living nightmare. Mind you cycling was the mainstay transport of the people in Lahore back in 60s and 70s, that was soon replaced by motorbikes thus adding towards degrading and fouling of the environment. Now fuel guzzling cars,noisy motor bikes and honking busses run in madness on the roads of Lahore. One spends more time in cars than doing something productive. Not to forget the extra costs like air pollution, noise, climate changes, accidents, waste fills and water wastage.etc.  Copenhagen offers a breath of fresh air, literally. It tells you how life can be simple, sleek, and sustainable on the two wheeled cycle. I know one cannot make any direct comparisons between the two cities because of the small population and compact size of Copenhagen but Copenhagen can serve as a good example in more than one ways. It can tell Lahore not just about efficient transport system but also how an investment in city planning, urban development, transport infrastructure must take into account the environmental, social, economic and sustainable effects on the society as a whole.

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Incubating Change makers

Recently I came across two news items that spurred me to write my thoughts about the state of the affairs captured in those two news. Whilst they don’t have any direct relation with each other as such, they represent the society in which I grew up. One is the most enlightening read : “Knowledge at par” by respected historiographer Dr. Mubarak Ali where he reports a case study of European universities that failed to rise to the challenges of time by following a fixed curriculum without taking into consideration the needs of the society and the environment. According to the author’s report, it was only in the 17th and 18th century with the setup of Royal Society of London where the researchers  started writing journals and disseminating knowledge to the general public which paved the way for revolution. Comparing that to the present time Pakistani Universities will not be too unreasonable or harassment as knowledge in Pakistan is imparted without instilling in the youth the urge to contribute or change the society and the environment. So when I came across a business headline screaming for all the positive attention : “FY 2013, Telecom sector’s revenues reach all time high” I wanted to take caution to celebrate it. Let me tell you why.
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