ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Friday said that Pakistan was investing in ecosystem restoration through the Ecosystem Restoration Fund (ERF) which was launched last year and would be used to create 100,000 nature jobs. He was addressing a webinar as part of a series of events, organised by IUCN in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change, to commemorate the World Environment Day 2021 which became possible with the support of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The webinar, with the theme of ecosystem restoration, was attended by government officials, experts, academicians, and representatives from NGOs, CSOs and the youth groups. During his keynote, Amin Aslam said that it was an honour for Pakistan to host the World Environment Day this year. “This world day will trigger the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, saying this decade will decide which direction the next century is going to take. Countries have decided to put their trust in nature to get things back in the right direction as far as nature conservation is concerned,” he said. He said that Pakistan was steering in this direction with many environment-led initiatives. “Makhanyal Forest is deemed to be a significant forest as the Billion Tree Tsunami was initiated from there by planting the first sapling of this mega project,” he said, adding that the first plant of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project was also planted here. Yesterday, “we had a pleasure of planting the billionth tree which was done by Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said. He said that two key reports were also presented there; the report of the ten billion tree project’s first pilot audit done through a consortium of three independent auditors which includes FAO, WWF-Pakistan and IUCN Pakistan. He said that UNEP was asked to do the internal wealth study for Pakistan and the report published by them highlighted a greater than 80 percent survival rate of the plantation done under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project. This report looks at the trend of the natural capital over the period of last 20 years in Pakistan, he said. A negative trend in natural capital during 1990-2018 was reported which has been reversed since 2018. This reversal is largely attributed towards the KP’s Billion Tree Tsunami project and the mangrove plantation at Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Amin Aslam said that Pakistan has written to Bonn Challenge to take a voluntary pledge of one million hectares of forest restoration by 2023. “We hope to kick-start the World Environment Day at the global level in a virtual event on the evening of June 4, 2021. Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair that event. UN secretary-general and other key global dignitaries will also become part of this event,” he said. In his opening remarks, IUCN country representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema welcomed Special Assistant Amin Aslam, Senator Javed Jabbar, Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel and key representatives of the federal and provincial governments, NGOs and the civil society organizations to the webinar. He congratulated Amin Aslam for taking this initiative to make Pakistan host for this global event. He also appreciated curtain raising ceremony by the prime minister at Makhniyal Forest in Haripur that highlighted the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, launch of the UNEP’s Natural Capital Report and also the monitoring report of the third party consortium. Senator Javed Jabbar apprised that being a global host for the said event will bring Pakistan to the international forefront. He said that the concepts that were being developed have energized everyone. “It is a good reflection of Pakistan of its capacity to be at the forefront,” he said. OXFAM Country Director Syed Shahnawaz Ali appreciated efforts of the Ministry of Climate Change, Sindh Forest Department, IUCN Pakistan and associated departments for increasing mangrove cover on Pakistan’s coastal areas which provide the income source for local communities and also contains opportunities for eco-tourism. Maryam Saigol and Fatima Yamin from Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) presented the concept of short video competition for youth which was launched during this webinar. The deadline for receiving video entries is June 15, 2021, and the results will be announced on June 21, 2021.