The environment is the complex set of physical, geographic, biological, social, cultural and political conditions that surround an individual or organism and that determine its form and the nature of its survival. The environment influences how people live and how societies. For that reason, people, progress, economic development and environment are closely linked.
Environmental economics is a sub-field of economics concerned with environmental issues. Environmental economics undertakes theoretical studies of the economics effects on natural or local environmental policies around the world, particular issues include the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to deal with air pollution, water quality, toxic substance, solid waste, and global warming (National Bureau of Economic Research).
Environmental issues in Pakistan threaten the population’s health and have been disturbing the balance between economic development and environmental protection. The environmental conditions in Pakistan are a matter of great concern.
A number of serious environmental problems present in our country, which are of great ecological concern in terms of sustainable economic future. These are water pollution from raw sewage, industrial, limited natural fresh water resources, solid erosion, pesticide misuse, deforestation, desertification and urban pollution.
Environment has never been matter of concern for Pakistan and the tendency goes further chronic as all mainstream political parties, bracing for participation in the forthcoming polls, have placed environment issues at the bottom of their draft manifestos.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994 and as a result the adoption of Kyoto Protocol initially in 1997 (which later entered into force on February 16, 2005) has dubbed it necessary for all to have more vibrant climate change policies at political and national level across the world.
However in Pakistan, politics has all glamour but blind to environment issues. Indifference on the subject gets more appalling because common people especially civil society have not bothered to bash political leadership for downplaying environment matters in their manifestos. Adding insult to injury, various NGOs engaged in revamping environmental degradation, government departments and independent associations, national and international have also opted out to remain silent over the situation.
In terms of words, Pakistan claims to be part of global world but at the time of action, it lacks interest to follow environment protocol, which are accepted and practiced on international front.
Even neighbouring country India has better awakening for environmental problems and its political parties are so sensitive on the issue that they have placed climate matters on the top of their manifestos.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was founded in 1967 by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but PPP spotted environmental problems during 2002 general elections when late Benazir Bhutto positioned them in party manifesto.
The same manifesto was incorporated in 2008 general elections. The manifesto just mentioned them instead putting greater emphasis on environment to ensure water security, green energy, environment-friendly policies and environment curriculum in educational institutions. With similar fashion and mind, PPP’s 13-member manifesto committee is again on the roll to fine tune its 2013 election manifesto highlighting five Es: ‘Employment, education, energy, equality, environment.
The Pakistan Muslim League-N headed by two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has even given a cold shoulder to environment issues in all manifestos. It is not surprising the manifesto does not cater to environment issue specially climate change, pollution of air and marine habitat, water quality, biodiversity, invasive plants and animals, eco-system, unsustainable agriculture, overpopulation and so on and so forth.
Pakistan Environment Lawyers’ Association (PELA) President Rafy Aalam criticised political parties for belittling environment issues in their manifestos but courageously confessed “Our like environment associations and NGOs also under-performed as if political parties did nothing and we also stayed out of the focus.”
He said, “Had we been in touch with political leadership in making of manifestos giving feedback on environment issues, they might have enlisted environment problems in true letter and spirit and this would have turned as tipping point but we remained dormant.”