On December 20th, 2017, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) and leading private sector companies of Pakistan jointly launched Pakistan’s first Business and Biodiversity Platform (BBP) at a ceremony held at PQA.
The Platform is a unique initiative focusing on nature conservation through the collective support of the private sector.
The launching ceremony was organised at PQA and presided over by the Chairman PQA Mr. Agha Jan Akhtar. Attending the ceremony were the members of IUCN, leading businesses, the initiating members of the platform, environmental experts and representatives from Sindh Forest Department.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chairman PQA Mr. Agha Jan Akhtar said, “There are environmental issues associated with the industrial developments which are required to be addressed in order to avoid long-term impacts on the coastal ecosystems and people.” Being a regulatory authority, he added, PQA is mandated to ensure that business operations are undertaken in environment friendly manner in the port area through mitigation of negative impacts such as pollution, cutting of mangroves, degradation of fisheries resources and displacement of local communities.
“The establishment of Business & Biodiversity platform is indeed a positive step and a good opportunity for the private sector to step ahead to improve their brand image both locally and internationally with the support of reputable conservation organisations like IUCN,” the Chairman concluded.
In his welcome address, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan, touched upon the environmental challenges Pakistan faces and shared IUCN’s work over the last 30 years. He appreciated the efforts being made by several businesses in Pakistan that are taking a strategic view of the environment they are operating in. “The corporate sector has come together to invest a significant amount in CSR activities –so there is a realization that exists. IUCN in this regard serves as a technical partner to assist in platform in identifying key environmental issues and potential interventions,” Mr. Cheema observed.
Mr. Aman Ul Haque Head of Engro Foundation elaborated that this is a very important first step towards a greener Karachi, partnering with other private sector companies the PQA and IUCN is a great model to achieve common goals towards mitigating the effects of Climate change.
Mr. Sharique A. Siddiqui, CEO of Pakistan International Bulk Terminal, underscored the need for such Platform, highlighting as extremely essential for addressing the chronic environmental issues along the Karachi coast. “We are fully on board, and we encourage more companies to join this initiative so that our collective efforts can lead to a greater impact,” he noted.
Finally, the official ceremony of the Platform concluded with the annual action plan to be implemented during the first year by IUCN. The action plan included the concrete steps to be undertaken such that seminars, capacity building trainings and workshops, biannual meetings, awareness sessions and addressing the key environmental issues at Port Qasim area.