Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has proposed the creation of a separate loss and damage financing window by the international financial institutions, including development of a standing debt restructuring modality by the IMF, for generating an immediate response to climate-induced natural disasters in the developing countries.
“The floods impacted one in seven Pakistanis (33 million). Initial estimates suggested that the total damage caused by this climate-induced disaster could be more than $30 billion, equivalent to 10% of Pakistan’s GDP,” the foreign minister said while chairing a high-level event on ‘Loss & Damage: New and Additional Financing’ organised by Pakistan on the sidelines of the 77th UNGA Session in New York.
The event was attended by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry (COP-27 Presidency), all major blocs in the climate change negotiations, as well as representative of the Green Climate Fund, Dr German Velasquez.
Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also attended the meeting.
The foreign minister highlighted the proposal put forward by Pakistan, as Chair of the G77 and China, to include discussions of loss and damage finance as an agenda item at the upcoming COP-27, expressing hope that a decision would be reached for a financial mechanism to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage”.
In his remarks, the foreign minister highlighted that the recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan were a clear manifestation of the unprecedented frequency and intensity of extreme climate events.
Bilawal emphasised that over the years, the developing countries had disproportionately suffered from the vagaries of climate change while contributing a miniscule amount to the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. For example, while contributing only 0.8% to GHG emissions, Pakistan was consistently among the top 10 most vulnerable countries in the world vis-à-vis the impact of climate change.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry agreed that loss and damage was a reality that would need to be addressed at COP-27 in a holistic manner.
He also referred to the UN secretary-general’s call on ‘Early Warning Systems’, which could play an effective role in averting and minimising the loss and damage from climate disasters.
The representative from the Green Climate Fund, Dr Velasquez, provided an overview of the existing financial windows particularly in the context of readiness support for national adaptation plans.
Ministers and climate change ambassadors from participating member states also provided their perspectives on the way forward for addressing the issue of loss and damage.
The participants appreciated Pakistan’s role as Chair of G77 and China and broadly supported the group’s request for discussion on loss and damage finance as a separate agenda item.
Expressing Pakistan’s full support for Egypt’s presidency, Bilawal stressed the need for concrete outcomes on loss and damage from COP-27.
Bilawal stressed “a peaceful, stable, prosperous Afghanistan is a priority for Pakistan” when US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West called on him.
The foreign minister stressed the significance of continuing international engagement with the interim Afghan government for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and beyond.
West appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and in facilitation of evacuations.
The two sides acknowledged the need for continued cooperation on the shared objectives of sustained efforts and engagement of the international community to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people and promote regional peace and stability.