The Pakistan Wetlands Programme
Broad Development Goals
As a developing country faced with political and economic instability, Pakistan has serious and varied economic problems. A key development challenge for the country is to promote economic growth and an equitable income distribution without degrading its natural resources. Despite its difficult economic conditions, Pakistan has striven to make environmental issues a priority. At the provincial, territorial and national level, the country is endeavouring to reduce poverty while conserving its natural resources. The Pakistan Wetlands Programme fits well within Pakistanís development goals by aiming to promote equitable sharing of natural resources, securing rights-of-access, especially for poor communities, diversifying livelihoods, improving the income earning potential of stakeholder communities and creating incentives for sustainable wetlands management. The Programme will advance the GoPís recent initiatives for devolution of power to provincial and local levels by developing the capacity and wetlands management skills of provincial institutions and strengthening community-based organisations.
Pakistan has demonstrated its fundamental commitment to biodiversity conservation in general and wetlands conservation in particular through its support for appropriate international conventions. The adoption of a Wetlands Action Plan in 2000 further illustrates the GoPís recognition of the importance of wetlands and the need to find sustainable solutions for their conservation. Additionally, the GoPís support for wetlands conservation is evident from the contribution provided to the Pakistan Wetlands Programme during the PDF (B) phase. This included active participation in Programme formulation, involvement in field surveys and the facilitation of site selection. The pledged involvement of government agencies personnel and facilities during the implementation phase of the Programme will further bolster the GoPís capacity and support for wetlands conservation. The GoP agencies involved in Programme formulation have committed to sustainable institutional backing for wetlands conservation. The recent initiatives by GoP facilitating the devolution of power to district and tehsil level provide a strengthened context for implementation of such initiatives at the site level.
Global Environmental Objectives
Pakistanís wetlands support a wide spectrum of globally important biodiversity that merits support from the international community to ensure its sustainable conservation. A significant fraction of Pakistanís wetlands-dependent biodiversity is classified as endemic threatened and vulnerable in internationally recognized evaluations such as IUCNís Red Data Book. Furthermore, international conventions such as Ramsar have recognised the role that Pakistanís wetlands play in maintaining and sustaining regional ecological processes that support globally important biodiversity such as bird migration routes and wintering grounds. While the country is making efforts to conserve its wetlands, it is constrained in this task by lack of access to physical and financial resources and immediate political and economic problems.
With support from the GEF, the proposed Programme offers a proactive opportunity to create an enabling environment that is essential to conserve all of Pakistanís wetlands. Further, the Programme initiatives in four Demonstration Complexes provide a much-needed opportunity for the application of proven conservation methods and development of innovative regionally appropriate and sustainable approaches to address site-specific issues. Lessons generated within the Project will be relevant for ongoing wetlands conservation initiatives both within and outside Pakistan for evaluation and application to similar efforts in other regions and countries. Significant features of replicability are expected to include the approaches developed to integrate communities in wetlands management, providing alternate livelihoods to wetlands-dependent vulnerable groups and developing mechanisms for financial sustainability in a ďresource strainedĒ economy. Such issues confront wetlands conservation in other countries as well and the success of measures implemented under the Pakistan Wetlands Programme will provide useful guidance to the international community.