- PM Shehbaz Sharif arrives in Geneva to to co-host int’l conference on ‘Climate Resilient Pakistan’.
- Conference is aimed at marshalling support to rebuild Pakistan after floods.
- Bilawal Bhutto, Ishaq Dar among others in PM-led delegation.
GENEVA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has touched down in Geneva late Sunday night to co-host an international conference on ‘Climate Resilient Pakistan’, along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The international conference, which is aimed at marshalling support to rebuild Pakistan after historic floods, is scheduled to be held on Monday (January 9).
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marryium Aurangzeb accompanied PM Shehbaz, according to a statement issued by the PM’s Office.
At the conference, Pakistan will outline a framework vision for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-affected areas as well as will emphasise the need for global support and long-term partnership to implement it.
In the inaugural high-level opening segment, the official document would be unveiled and feature partner support announcements.
The prime minister and the UN secretary-general will also hold a joint press stakeout.
Leaders and high-level representatives from several countries and international financial institutions, foundations and funds are expected to attend the conference, both in person and virtual format.
Pakistan and the United Nations are holding a major conference in Geneva on Monday that will help mobilise international support to help Pakistan’s people and government recover more effectively from the devastation caused by recent floods.
Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers last September displaced some 8 million people and killed at least 1,700 in a catastrophe blamed on climate change.
Most of the waters have now receded but the reconstruction work, estimated at around $16.3 billion, to rebuild millions of homes and thousands of kilometres of roads and railway is just beginning and millions more people may slide into poverty.
Islamabad, whose delegation is led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, will present a recovery “framework” at the conference where United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron are also due to speak.
Guterres, who visited Pakistan in September, has previously described the destruction in the country as “climate carnage”.
“This is a pivotal moment for the global community to stand with Pakistan and to commit to a resilient and inclusive recovery from these devastating floods,” said Knut Ostby, United Nations’ Development Programme’s Pakistan Representative.
Additional funding is crucial to Pakistan amid growing concerns about its ability to pay for imports such as energy and food and to meet sovereign debt obligations abroad.
However, it is far from clear where the reconstruction money will come from, especially given difficulties raising funds for the emergency humanitarian phase of the response which is around half funded, according to UN data.
At the COP27 meeting in Egypt in November, Pakistan was at the forefront of efforts that led to the establishment of a “loss and damage” fund to cover climate-related destruction for countries that have contributed less to global warming than wealthy ones.
However, it is not yet known if Pakistan, with a $350 billion economy, will be eligible to tap into that future funding.
Organisers say around 250 people are expected at the event including high-level government officials, private donors and international financial institutions.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Khalil Hashmi, said Islamabad was willing to pay for about half of the bill but hoped for support from donors for the rest. “We will be mobilising international support through various means,” he said. “We look forward to working with our partners.”
Additional input from Reuters.