Steps to overcoming the water, food and energy crisis highlighted

LAHORE: Experts at a workshop highlighted the need to overcome the water, energy and food crisis and explore how transforming ecosystems for equitable food, energy and water security in the Indus basin can be achieved.

The workshop was organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan. The title of the workshop was “NEXUS Gains for the Indus Basin: Realizing Multiple Benefits Across Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems (Forests, Biodiversity)”.

The workshop was organized in collaboration with Khwaja Fareed University of Information Technology and Engineering (KFUEIT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Private sector officials, Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC), Progressive Farmers, Punjab Irrigation Department, Punjab Government Department of Farm Water Management (OFWM) and Pakistan Board of Water Resources Research (PCRWR) participated in the workshop.

Participants discussed how to reach a common understanding and find local solutions to the challenges facing the transformation of water, energy, food and ecosystems while exploring how the transformation of system for equitable food, energy and water security in the Indus basin can be achieved.

Dr. Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative – Pakistan and Regional Representative – Central Asia, IWMI and Dr. Stefan Uhlenbrook, Strategic Program Manager (IWMI) – Water, Food and Ecosystems (WEFE) shared presentations on the importance of WEFE NEXUS approach in Pakistan in the wake of climate change. In his welcome address, KFUEIT Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr. Muhammad Suleman Tahir said that it is the responsibility of universities to offer solutions to problems concerning local agriculture and industry.

“As the challenge of water scarcity in Cholistan increases, we launched the ‘Save Water for Cholistan’ campaign from this university platform,” he said. According to Dr Mohsin Hafeez, “There is an ongoing heat wave in South Punjab and Sindh which is having implications on the water availability of the canal and impacting agriculture. There is a need assess the temperature increase in northern Pakistan and its impact on glaciers, which contribute significantly to the Indus River.

Regarding the NEXUS Gains initiative, he said that the initiative will provide practical and scientific evidence-based solutions and a decision support system for WEFE resources by building the capacity of national stakeholders and key players working in the region. The outcome of the project will lead to more coherent policies across the WEFE nexus, enable sustainable development pathways for all, and ensure policy changes are robust and resilient.

Addressing the workshop, Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook said that the WEFE initiative is being implemented in Pakistan, Ethiopia, India and Nepal, which aims to sensitize stakeholders to use integrated modeling tools to assess trade-offs and synergies, improve water productivity, clean energy-aware business and financial models, and train 40 emerging women leaders to implement WEFE NEXUS innovations.

Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook pointed out: “It is often women, girls and vulnerable groups who face the significant negative consequences of non-integrated approaches to WEFE management. All members of society and the economy as a whole will benefit from the implementation of the NEXUS approach, including the environment. »

Workshop participants shared their feedback on ways to promote and institutionalize the WEFE NEXUS approach and identify potential activities under the NEXUS Gains initiative in the Indus Basin. The IWMI Pakistan field office at KFUEIT premises, Rahim Yar Khan, was also inaugurated by IWMI and the KFUEIT team. Later, a solar power plant donated by IWMI and the Center for Water, Land and Ecosystem was inaugurated at the university. The IWMI and KFUEIT team also visited a SCARP pumping site and various sites in the Cholistan desert.

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