From among the multitude of challenges that confront Pakistan, perhaps none remains as elusive as our ability to grasp the very real consequences of climate change on our present and future. Rapid population growth, widespread poverty, massive dependence on agriculture and natural resource ecosystems for economic growth and livelihoods make Pakistan highly vulnerable to climate change. Today, almost 3 million people in Pakistan are affected by natural catastrophes each year. Despite public investments in disaster management since the 2005, Pakistan ranks seventh globally in countries at risk from climate change. Flooding alone, which accounts for 77 percent of all natural disasters in Pakistan costs the economy $1.6 billion every year, shredding 0.8 percent off the annual growth rate. Continuing governance bottlenecks coupled with fiscal and technical constraints have inhibited our capacity to develop and deploy new technologies for the mitigation of and adaptation to the adverse impact of climate change. This lack of attention to a global challenge that is likely to become Pakistan’s foremost source of instability and insecurity has amplified existing water, food and energy deficiencies. On its 70th anniversary, Pakistan remains critically dependent on the Indus basin as its primary source of water, with scant addition to water storage capacity since the 1960’s and even less investment in water management. Even after 70 years, irrigation accounts for 97 percent of water withdrawals and absentee landlord-ism continues to result in the employment of obsolete irrigation methods that waste scarce water resources and promote water logging. Faced with this lack of modernization, the threat posed by climate change is exacerbated by declining average rainfall and receding catchment areas in the Himalayas. This has resulted in average water flows declining from 1,500 cubic meters in 2009 to 1,017 cubic meters in 2017, making Pakistan the third most water-stressed country in the world. Equally worrisome is the impact climate change is having on Pakistan’s growing cities. Unplanned growth under migration stress has resulted in a steady decline in public service delivery in urban centers as the governance deficit has widened. ‘Urban heat islands’ resulting in soaring pre-monsoon temperatures in large cities like Karachi have resulted in loss of life and livelihood. Inadequate drainage in Pakistan’s large cities is now unable to absorb heavy rainfalls that are a consequence of our changing climate. Urban flash floods have caused irreparable loss to the economy and have impacted social activity. High incidence of water borne diseases such as Dengue and gastroenteritis poses serious health risks for population centres. Despite the government’s recent uptake in national mitigation and adaptation policies on climate change such as the National Climate Change Policy 2030 in 2013 or the establishment of the Climate Change Council, Pakistan Climate Change Authority and the Pakistan Climate Change Fund in 2017, action on ground remains stymied. In the face of alarming declines in water flows, no serious efforts have been made to re-prioritize water management. Improving irrigation methods by promoting drip irrigation have largely failed. Similarly, no serious thought has been given to improving the pricing model for water to discourage obsolete methods and inflict prohibitive costs on water mismanagement. While some progress has been made in drought management through non-government organizations and investments in alternate community level storage methods, attempts to better regulate water flows through increased storage capacity continue to face political bottlenecks. One area where the government has failed completely is information. The fact remains that the vast majority of Pakistanis have no information on how climate change is impacting lives. This has meant that communities and citizens continue to be ill prepared to meet disaster challenges and even more indifferent towards disaster preparedness. Perhaps as we begin our journey for another 70 years, we can begin to invest in educating our citizens about the risks of climate change and the need for our citizens to re-calibrate their consumption habits to meet this very real challenge ahead. This essay was first published by Jinnah Institute’s Independence Day special feature. Hassan Akbar is Director Jinnah Institute Published in Daily Times, August 26th 2017.