Senator Sherry Rehman at Jinnah Institute’s roundtable titled ‘Financing Climate Action for Pakistan’ on Thursday said, “In leveraging options for climate action, especially in the lead-up to COP28, Pakistan needs to prioritise finance, capacity at scale and climate governance.” “The intensifying terrain of environmental, climate and pollution challenges in Pakistan needs a reinforcement of priorities for government, civil society and development partners,” she added, speaking with a group of leading climate experts and heads of multilateral agencies, a news release said. Senator Rehman also launched the Centigrade Platform at this policy convening, to spur policy discourse, knowledge-based collaborations and resilience advocacy in Pakistan’s climate and environment space. She explained that the idea behind Centigrade is to generate science-based climate leadership and communications for amplifying the scale and urgency of the emergencies facing communities, as well as fostering capacity towards emerging and existing crises, both sectoral and national. Speaking at the event, UN Resident Coordinator, Julien Harneis suggested that there was a need to tally Pakistan’s receipt of climate funds against other vulnerable countries and any variance should be examined in terms of absorptive capacity. He also observed that engineers working on Pakistan’s large infrastructure projects did not consider the obvious damage that was being caused to the environment. Resident Representative UNDP Pakistan, Samuel Rizk stated that climate finance opportunities for a lower middle-income country (LIMC) like Pakistan were limited, and a finance and investment combination was more likely to be the solution. For development partners like UNDP to assist Pakistan, there were key challenges to consider such as the regulatory environment, deficits in human capital and technical capacity that caused slower progress, he added. Country Representative Unicef, Abdullah Fadil observed that the current distribution of climate finance is slanted towards integration, not inclusion. “75% climate-related investments are made in hard infrastructure, as opposed to investments in the resilience of vulnerable communities which help them combat climate stress themselves,” he highlighted. There is a great deal of data now available through Unicef’s Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which shows that 40% of Pakistani children are suffering from nutritional stunting, which leads to stunted economic contribution and stunted GDP growth. Development needs to be prioritised with inclusion before anything else. Dr Abid Suleri, Executive Director of SDPI, pointed out a dichotomy in the international climate finance regime, whereby vulnerable countries like Pakistan could not leverage the Geneva Pledge unless there was requisite compliance with IMF. While he urged that fiscal prudence was necessary, making crisis adaptation funds dependent on IMF clearance was unnecessary and unfair. He suggested that Debt for Nature Swaps could be explored as an option for climate finance. Agreeing with this observation, senior climate expert Ali Tauqeer Sheikh argued that governmental assessments of development projects were severely lacking and did not provide a convincing projection of adaptation and mitigation figures. Other participants at the events included World Bank Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist Ahsan Tehsin, UN Assistant Resident Representative Amir Khan Goraya, Australian First Secretary Danielle Cashen and Head Social & Environmental Policy Habib Bank, Ahmed Saeed.