ISLAMABAD: Experts, researchers and scientists from Central Asian Regional countries renewed their pledge to further enhance intra-regional collaboration and cooperation for tackling common environmental, climate change and sustainable development-related challenges. The experts stressed the need to tackling fundamental challenges by enhancing collaboration in research, transfer of scientific, technical know-how and technology in environment, energy, water, biodiversity, health, education, transport and communication fields. This will help to achieve sustainable development goals, conserving natural resources and fight to poverty, hunger and disease, they added. Experts from Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) countries emphasized this during inaugural session of 6th ECO Working Group Meeting on Environment at a local hotel. The ECO is regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among the member states. In 1992, the Organization was expanded to include seven new members such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Addressing the session Secretary Climate Change, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, said that poverty, hunger, malnutrition and health diseases are common regional issues, which have been exacerbated further due to environmental degradation and global warming-induced climate change. He highlighted that the ECO moot provides unprecedented opportunity to discuss and strengthen mechanism for dealing with environmental and climate change challenges in the region. He maintained the Pakistan Government is committed to achieve UN sustainable development goals, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, tackling environmental degradation, deforestation, and myriad climate change risks, particularly floods and water scarcity in the country. It is also poised to join and support efforts of the ECO member stated to fight the identical issues to achieve goals, he added. Chairman of the 6th ECO Working Group Meeting on Environment, Muhamamd Irfan Tariq, told the meeting that deterioration of natural resources continues to affect livelihood and health issues in Central Asia. “Environmental degradation, air and water pollution, Ozone layer depletion, deforestation, desertification, vanishing bio-diversity and land degradation have resulted in climate change and ecological imbalance in all the regional countries,” he noted. President of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), Prof Dr Manzoor H Soomro highlighted the yawning gap of collaboration in science and technology within ECO member countries and urged the regional countries to plug the gap. “The ECO member countries need to work hard to development joint research projects for addressing environmental, climate change and other socio-economic challenges,” he urged. Dr Soomro said that unprecedented potential of scientific and technological know-how and absence of advanced technology in the regional countries still remained untapped. Director Economic Cooperation Organisation, Orkhan Zeynalov said that 21st century global environmental challenges have immensely increased impacts on our planet and triggered changing climatic conditions and abrupt global warming, combined with the region-wide socio-economic disparities. “In order to boost capacity of building of ECO member states in the field of sustainable forest management, the ECO Secretariat in support with the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is striving to bridge the gap of technology and scientific know-how as well as research gap”, he added.