As one of the top 10 most vulnerable countries on the Climate Risk Index, Pakistan has borne the brunt of climate-related disasters. The country’s vulnerability is undeniable with 10,000 lives lost and financial damages exceeding $4 billion from 173 extreme weather events. In 2022, it experienced devastating super floods that impacted 33 million people, claiming over 1,700 lives, and leaving more than 2.2 million houses damaged or destroyed.
The floods devastated water systems, forcing 5.4 million individuals, including 2.5 million children, to rely on contaminated water sources. The World Bank estimates the total damage at a staggering 4.8 percent of Pakistan’s FY22 GDP, with recovery and reconstruction needs exceeding the allocated budget for FY23. Furthermore, these calamities are expected to push an additional 8.4 to 9.1 million people into poverty, exacerbating the already alarming national poverty rate.
With a heavy reliance on agriculture, a growing population, low social standards, weak governance, and a fragile political structure, Pakistan faces significant threats from both traditional and non-traditional security risks induced by climate change. These factors have far-reaching implications for law and order, as well as the overall socio-economic landscape of the country.
The research report emphasizes that climate change extends beyond temperature fluctuations and hydrological cycles. Its catastrophic consequences jeopardize food and livelihood security, human security and gender equality, exacerbating socio-economic instability and triggering conflicts over resources, particularly among violent non-state actors (VNSAs).
Climate change undermines state legitimacy, intensifies resource competition, necessitates regressive policies, and limits state capacity during crises. These challenges compound Pakistan’s existing political and economic turmoil, heightening tensions in the society already divided along ethnic and religious lines.
Based on in-depth research and the Center’s independent findings emanating from discussions and interviews with the subject experts, the report concludes with robust policy recommendations for immediate action to address these pressing issues and calls upon the international community to recognize the severity of climate change as a paramount threat to Pakistan’s national security.
The report urges the policymakers and government stakeholders to take actionable measures such as prioritizing climate-resistant infrastructure and socio-economic welfare, improving disaster preparedness and health facilities, integrating green infrastructure in urban planning, promoting sustainable transportation and renewable energy, implementing sustainable agriculture practices, improving water management and cross-border relations, strengthening social safety nets, enhancing resource management, building resilience, adopting a people-centric approach, increasing women’s participation in decision-making, providing climate information and education to women, addressing gender-based violence, supporting women’s livelihoods, ensuring labor/farmer rights, increasing accountability of stakeholders, and utilizing modern agrarian technologies.
Timely and effective measures are crucial to mitigate losses, build resilient infrastructure, and safeguard the well-being of the nation.
The report can be accessed at: crss.pk/climate-induced-security-threats-to-pakistan/
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