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Pakistan faces a stark reality. Despite contributing a minimal 0.8% to global emissions, the country ranks among the top 10 most vulnerable to climate change. This vulnerability translates into devastating consequences, with average annual losses exceeding US$4 billion due to floods, droughts, and glacial melt – events directly linked to the actions of the highly industrialized world. Pakistan has actively sought international climate finance, especially after the catastrophic 2022 floods exposed its deep vulnerabilities. However, a critical gap exists between ambitious climate goals and the ability to access and utilize these funds effectively. This gap stems from a lack of robust climate governance – a well-integrated system of policies, institutions, and processes to manage climate challenges.

A Legacy of Leadership, a Challenge of Implementation

Pakistan boasts a unique record in international climate diplomacy. It chaired the G77+China group during the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and again in 2022, when the Loss & Damage Fund was established. However, domestic efforts haven’t mirrored this leadership. The post-2016 NDCs, while more achievable, reflect a decline in ambition compared to previous targets.

Pakistan’s NDCs outline ambitious goals – a 50% emissions reduction with 35% relying on international support. The plan prioritizes low-carbon development, carbon sequestration, renewable energy adoption, ecosystem-based adaptation strategies, and climate-resilient agriculture. Despite these well-defined plans, translating them into action requires a robust financial framework.

A Flawed System Hinders Progress

Pakistan’s current climate finance regime lacks coherence. Funding flows primarily through International Development Assistance (IDA) or debt-financed projects, neglecting innovative financing mechanisms. The system is fragmented, relying on piecemeal amendments within the Public Finance Management system, with the Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission, and Ministry of Climate Change all playing roles. This lack of integration hinders access to crucial resources.

The consequences of weak climate governance are twofold. First, it acts as a roadblock for accessing finance for adaptation and mitigation. Second, it discourages potential donors who prioritize transparent and accountable utilization of funds. Building a robust climate governance system is essential for unlocking the potential of climate finance and achieving Pakistan’s NDCs.

From Nascent Policies to Effective Climate Governance

Pakistan’s climate change policies are relatively young, dating back only a decade. While the legal framework exists to address environmental and climate justice rights, translating these into effective action remains a challenge.

The devolution of environmental protection responsibilities (decentralization) hasn’t yet translated into effective sub-national implementation. Legislation like the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA) laid the groundwork for governance, but key institutions like the Climate Change Authority remain non-functional. Additionally, limited use is made of mechanisms for inclusive policy-making.

Building a Robust Climate Governance Framework for the Future

To bridge the climate finance gap, Pakistan needs a multi-pronged approach:

  • Alignment with Best Practices: Pakistan must align its climate governance framework with international best practices. This includes enhanced coordination, inclusive policy-making, and capacity building at all levels. A robust set of tools based on climate data collection, regular climate budget reports, standardized reporting, public dissemination, and stakeholder consultations is vital.
  • Empowering Institutions: Fully operationalize existing climate change institutions like the Climate Change Authority. This can involve policy alignment, technical assistance, and developing standardized climate change terminology for improved reporting and review.
  • Whole-of-Society and Whole-of-Government Approach: Integrate climate considerations into national development plans and involve relevant stakeholders in policy design and implementation. Public sector policies with climate impacts require expertise from climate change institutions.
  • Strengthening Provincial Action: Bridge the gap between national and provincial policy-making. The federal government should provide support and protocols to expedite policy adoption and implementation plans at the provincial level.


Climate finance is no longer an optional tool – it’s a necessity for vulnerable nations like Pakistan. With a commitment to effective governance, Pakistan can turn its vulnerability into an opportunity for a sustainable and climate-resilient future. The time for action is now.

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