On March 22, 2024, the International Union for Conservation of Nature celebrated World Water Day and the International Day of Forests together at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad. The celebration was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Climate Change, Federal Flood Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Serena Hotels. This year, “Water for all – leaving no one behind” and “Forests and Education” were the themes for the days.

World Water Day 2024 Celebration

Gilgit, 22 March 2024: World Water Day 2024 “Water for Jobs: Empowering Young Professionals” was jointly celebrated at Karakoram International University Gilgit by WWF-Pakistan, Gilgit Office, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB-EPA), and Karakoram International University (KIU). Experts in the program, which drew attendees from a variety of backgrounds, including academia, government agencies, civil society organizations, and the media, emphasized the significance of water for life, livelihood, and employability in Gilgit-Baltistan, the source and center of nearly 75% of Pakistan’s water supply due to its network of glaciers and snow cover.

Gilgit-Baltistan as a Crucial Water Source

The guests of honor on this occasion included Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources, Mr. Haji Abdul Wakeel, Minister for Forest, Wildlife, and Environment Department (Gilgit-Baltistan), Dr. Hashim Paupal Zai, Additional Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research (Pakistan), and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Minister of Public Works Department (Gilgit-Baltistan). They emphasized in their addresses the significance of Gilgit-Baltistan as a water-fertilizing region for Pakistan’s low-lying areas. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal continued by saying that, with the assistance of WASEP, AKPBS, and other partners, his department is aggressively tackling measures to lower water pollution and developing appropriate sanitation programs.

Insights from Hamad Naqi Khan

People view water as an endless resource, and in order to effectively conserve it, we need to shift that mentality, according to Hamad Naqi Khan, Director General of WWF-Pakistan. Our current water availability of just 964 m3 per capita is well below the threshold of water scarcity of 1,000 m3 per capita, meaning that the lack of water will have an impact on our agricultural output, industrial production, and people’s health. We are already among the top ten countries most affected by climate change.

Conclusion

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the skit that KIU Media and Communication Department students presented, which emphasized the significance of water for life, livelihood, and the economy. Mr. Saeed Abbas, Senior Conservation Officer, WWF-Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, concluded by thanking the audiences for participating in the triumphant commemoration of World Wildlife Day.

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