ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir said massive and urgent efforts were imperative to limit environmental degradation as the unabated ecosystem dilapidation would cost US$10 trillion to global GDP by 2050. Addressing the panel discussion on Ecosystem Restoration 2030: A Decade of Action for Sustainability and Resilience held here under international Sustainable Development Conference 2021 titled “Beyond the Pandemic: Leaving No One Behind” by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the minister said ecosystems and biodiversity conservation was only possible by achieving targets set under the UN Ecosystem Restoration Decade 2021-2030. Zartaj said, “Only with healthy ecosystems, we can sustain life on earth and fight climate change and preserve biodiversity.” She added that it was a moment of pride for Pakistan that its green initiatives changed the country’s image globally. “The world today admires and acknowledges Pakistan as a champion because of ecosystem restoration done in the last few years,” she underlined. The flagship initiative of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation (TBTTP) project did wonders with a series of actions from protecting nature to creating employment across the country. “Afforestry alone has the potential to increase food security, where the TBTTP has been built on the successful outcomes of the Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) succeeded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” she added. Zartaj said the BTAP’s outcomes were duly acknowledged by the World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Bonn Challenge, and other world foras that helped in ending hunger, economic insecurity and provide livelihoods. The government of Pakistan, she informed that has launched Ecosystem Restoration Initiative to facilitate the transition for climate-resilient Pakistan, Ecosystem Restoration Fund, whereas two coal power plants were shelved under CPEC and replaced with renewable energy project., The Ministry of Climate Change during the Covid-19 pandemic launched a green stimulus package to end poverty and ensure ecosystem restoration, she noted. Zartaj concluded that the policymakers, experts, and academia would have to think beyond statistics and come up with ground-based solutions to ensure ecosystem restoration and survival of the future generations. The panel discussion of moderate Research Fellow/Director Resilient Development Programme at SDPI Dr. Shafqat Munir flanked by Executive Director SDPI Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri. The experts hailing from diverse professional backgrounds discussed various aspects of ecosystem restoration, blue economy, and presented recommendations for Pakistan to benefit from reviving and protecting marine reserves. Marine Resources’ Expert Salman Danish presented his key policy papers on Marine Ecosystem Restoration. Speaking on the occasion, he said Pakistan successfully increased its mangroves forests and also completed a blue economy study to estimate the carbon stocks absorbed in its mangroves forests. However, the threats to the marine ecosystem were overexploitation of marine resources for short-term gains leading to mangroves decline, carelessness towards resources in the shape of plastic pollution and toxic waste dumping, and climate change itself a huge impact for degrading marine ecosystems, he added. He recommended that the World Bank (WB) policy recommendations for Blue Economy Implementation have suggested that the country should focus on improving the mapping and monitoring of blue carbon and marine ecosystems, identify and evaluate key pressures on blue carbon or marine ecosystems in Pakistan and invest in research, strengthen education, training, and engagement in the marine sector. Dr. Sehrish Qayyum shed light on the Post Pandemic Blue Economy. She explained the Blue Economy as per WB definition as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, jobs, and preserving marine ecosystems. She suggested that the Chinese Geological Survey and Pakistan Navy survey (Behr e Masah) found marine reserves of 22,590 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) that the country should preserve and promote aquaculture in its coastal regions. Prof Dr. Babar Shahbaz of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad said Pakistan’s 50 percent land of its total area of 79.6 million hectares comprised of rangelands whereas only 28 percent of the total area was cultivated. He proposed that the ecosystem restoration has to be holistic along with ecosystem supportive food security policies, improving land management for promising outcomes. Dr. Shahbaz noted that the rangelands of the country were mostly ignored and were given the least importance when ecosystem restoration was planned that needed to be considered keeping in view its potential. In his vote of thanks, Executive Director SDPI Dr. Abid Suleri extended his gratitude to the panelists for shedding light on the important topics. He said the future generations would have to carry the solutions of ecosystem restoration like the facemask we were adapted with during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Suleri announced that the recommendations shared at the forum related to Pakistan would be sent to the relevant ministries for their consumption and knowledge.