Importance of Sustainable Development for Balochistan

Naila Tasneem

This year in September, Sustainable development goals (SDGs) will be replacing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were put into place by the UN in 1990 and will be expiring by the end of 2015. These targets set by the UN will be affecting the way member states frame their policies and political agendas. It is expected that issues like climate change, water conservation and affordable, sustainable energy will be taking the centre stage. Sustainable development refers to “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development is important because it requires the integration of not only economic but also environmental and social components at all levels.

Environmental issues affect people of Balochistan like it affects people in other parts of Pakistan. For instance a shepherd in Balochistan, a farmer in Punjab or a fisherman from Sindh all rely directly on the environment for their livelihood. Unfortunately, the livelihood of these people is at risk due to climate change. Prolonged droughts, unseasonal rains, depleting fisheries and death and destruction caused by Awaran earthquake necessitates the provincial government to address problems arising due to climate change. Livelihoods of poor people depend on livestock, fisheries and agriculture. Desertification, deforestation, droughts, increasing disease prevalence and changing weather cycles adversely affect province’s population and economy. Decreasing fruit production also impacts food security situation. The government must pay attention in preparing the people for the affects of climate change.

A shepherd in Balochistan relies directly on the environment for his livelihood

Balochistan government must ensure good governance in this regard and they must also now rise to the challenge of achieving equitable and sustainable development. Economic and human development progress cannot be sustained if the ecosystems on which they depend are irreparably damaged, and if gross inequity leaves our societies unstable and lacking cohesion. Reducing environmental degradation, for example, can create jobs, and help alleviate poverty. On the other hand a degraded environment can undermine the long term economic and social health of a country.

Policy makers and their advisors both on federal and provincial level must priorities environmental concerns and identify the ‘triple-win’ solutions which can bring economic, environmental, and social benefits. Policy and regulatory frameworks need to be designed to attract and use finance and new technologies in ways which generate sustainability and meet the needs of citizens, including the poorest and most vulnerable.

Integrated decision making for sustainable development is vital at federal, provincial and local levels. Many policies relevant to building resilience, including adapting to extreme climate, like disaster risk reduction, natural resource management, and land-use planning, are often dealt with at sub-national level. Building the capacity of sub-national authorities to work in these ways should be a priority. Private sector could also play a vital role in areas such as fisheries and mineralogy.

Around 87% of the people in Balochistan, directly or indirectly, derive their livelihood from livestock rearing.

Overgrazing, drought, erosion, and water stress have caused severe degradation of rangelands in Balochistan.  Around 87% of the people in Balochistan, directly or indirectly, derive their livelihood from livestock rearing. Rangeland productivity in Balochistan has deteriorated due to absence of grazing management practices, low and erratic rainfall distribution, and over exploitation of natural resources. Rainfall patterns are unpredictable with great variations. The rangelands of Balochistan need an urgent and well-planned program in management and utilization to halt the degradation process leading towards desertification. Range management should also be based on knowledge of Pastoral communities, traditions, and local arrangements. Communities and youth must be involved in range management planning and implementation processes.

Hence the Balochistan government must include sustainable development on its agenda to secure livelihoods, protect ecology and environment and ensure water conservation. The governments and people must rise up to the new challenges to human and social development pertaining to changing climatic conditions. Balochistan is rich with natural and mineral wealth that can alter the destiny of its people and bring economic prosperity. However, preservation of ecological systems and biodiversity is imperative to meet current and future needs of the people. The government needs to engage communities and youth to support efforts for environmental protection. Any efforts to alleviate poverty, hunger or gender empowerment will only be meaningful if they are accompanied by efforts for sustainable development. For a prosperous Balochistan it is high time to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage rangelands, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and prevent biodiversity loss.

Author is an Economist based in Lahore. She can be reached at ntasneem5@gmail.com. Follow her on twitter @npanthers

Published in The Balochistan Point on September 4, 2015

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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