Mangroves seminar concludes: Demand for public-private partnership
KARACHI, Nov 20: Experts at a consultation programme on Tuesday highlighted the need for public-private partnership and engaging coastal communities to effectively protect mangroves.
Speaking at the 9th regional steering committee meeting of the Mangroves For Future (MFF), organised by the IUCN, they said the gigantic task demanded that all stakeholders join hands to achieve the goal of a sustainable use of natural resources.
MFF adviser Don Macintosh, speaking on the value of healthy coastal system, said that at many places mangroves had been cut to make room for shrimp farming and people involved in it earned huge profits, but in the long run by doing this they destroyed mangroves. The destruction not only hit the fish catch but also coasts, while seawater intrusion affected neighbouring soil, he added.
Later responding to a question by an industrialist about the harvesting or any other use of mangroves through which profits could be made, the expert said if too much value was added to them, there would be chances that a big industry or business would come into the coastal areas to exploit the resources and in the process would hurt the rights of livelihood of the coastal communities, which totally depended on those resources. So, first rights of the indigenous people had to be kept in mind before adding too much value to the resources.
He, however, said that eco-tourism could be promoted in the mangroves, which also minimised the impacts of cyclones and tsunamis, as they being the first line of defence could reduce the wave force.
Leena Wokeck, speaking on the corporate social responsibility, said the corporate social responsibility (CSR) was not about nice projects companies undertook with parts of the profits they made – it was about the way how they made those profits in the first place. It was about how they managed the environmental, social, and economic impacts of every aspect of their operations, value chains, products and services.
She said that in developed societies a business could not succeed if it got the reputation that it was not fulfilling its CSR and not investing back in society. She said many business managers did not understand that they had to invest in society as during their student days they were taught how to increase the profitability of the company. So this message had to be included in the curriculum.
The additional secretary of the Indian environment and forests ministry, Dr Hem Pandey, recalled that “if you protect nature, nature in turn would protect you”. But owing to actions of certain irresponsible people – be those in the private sector, which did not follow the laws, or in the government which did not properly implement the laws – the environment was being damaged.
He said in India the industry was now not only expected fulfill its corporate social responsibility, but also its corporate environmental responsibility.
The IUCN’s regional councilor, Malik Amin Aslam, said the costs of dealing with climate-triggered impacts was going up and according to some assessments could be in the range of $6 billion and $14bn a year for Pakistan.
He said the climate-triggered natural disasters had cost the country’s economy $10 billion in 2010 and $7 billion in 2011, pushing the country into the list of countries severely impacted by climate change. He said the private sector played a key role in the coastal areas and it was in its interest to ensure that development was sustainable.
Former IUCN vice president Javed Jabbar said that recent partnerships had shown increasingly sophisticated business agenda on environmental sustainability and had been focusing on responsible resource use and growing business interest in biodiversity.
A representative of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Gulzar Feroz, admitted that most of the city’s industrial units did not treat their effluents, which eventually found their way into the sea, polluting the fragile marine ecosystem. He, however, said that the government had also not yet set up the four combined treatment plants that were to be established 10 years back and in the process their cost had multiplied.
Balochistan forests secretary Ghulam Ali Baloch, Sharique Siddiqui, acting country representative of IUCN Mehmood Akhtar Cheema, and others also spoke.
Over 60 experts from 13 countries – including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar — attended the three-day meeting, which concluded on Tuesday. The participants will go on a day-long field trip of the Keenjhar Lake, Makli necropolis and Thatta on Wednesday.