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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Danish Ambassador to Pakistan: A Man on the Mission!

Yesterday (11 Dec. 2013), I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, the Danish ambassador to Pakistan. This meeting was arranged to share mutual interests and initiatives for promoting bilateral relations between Denmark and Pakistan both at the institutional and people levels. In a meeting that lasted just over 30 minutes, Mr. Sorensen left an impression of being “A Man on the Mission.” Apart from his briefing about the Danish Embassy in Pakistan’s initiatives since his appointment to the current position, I had also been following his statements and interviews in the Pakistani media. Mr. Sorensen has been actively communicating with all the stakeholders about his intentions to strengthen bilateral trade links and enhance the visibility of Danish leadership in the areas of processing dairy products,  medicine (e.g., for Diabetes), and renewable energy. During our meeting, the Ambassador shared with us some of the strategic moves he has made to identify the potential areas of investment in Pakistan and to make Danish business community aware of them. For example, he has recently opened a bilateral trade section in the Danish embassy in Pakistan.   Continue reading

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What is Green Pearls

Curtain Raiser— Green Pearls-Promoting Sustainable Values Through Story Telling

What’s the motivation?

Countries like Pakistan should not miss the opportunities to transform their societies towards sustainable practices in the wake of increasing burden on their energy resources or energy crisis that has been crippling the socio-economic fabric of those societies. This can be a time for social innovation, infrastructure renovation, and smart technological transformation that can move them towards sustainable living and sustainable societies. I would like to explain the rationale for my motivation to take this initiative in the context of Pakistan’s current energy crisis.

Depletion of vast natural resources, life wrecking floods exposing Pakistan’s extreme vulnerability to climate change, a rapid population growth, a growing economy with high consumption pattern that puts enormous strain on energy resources, water and food, a complete disregard for environment are some of the issues being faced by Pakistan. The vision and the will to work through these problems in a sustainable manner are missing both on the part of the government and the people. In spite of  the enormous crises, some sectors in the Pakistan economy have shown significant resilience in 2012. World Bank has projected a steady growth of 3.5% for Pakistan. This creates hope for higher growth and poverty alleviation. So what is missing?

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Taking a dip in absurdity

Ever since my childhood, I have heard that Pakistan is going through a very difficult phase and that things will improve.  What I have observed in the past three decades and we all agree that the state of affairs in Pakistan has gone from bad to worse. Economy, terrorism, lack of electricity and with it the collapse of infrastructure and an abysmal set of leaders are vulnerabilities that we have gotten used to. Our naive leaders and their abyss of ignorance keeps on getting deeper. Labelling mobile networks as terror networks and suspending the service is one such act.

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