A major international conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan, co-hosted by the United Nations and Pakistan, is seeking $16 billion to support Pakistan’s multi-year effort to recover from last year’s unprecedented floods.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the conference with an impassioned plea for aid on behalf of millions of Pakistanis whose lives and livelihoods were upended by the disaster.
He described the crisis as a climate disaster of monumental scale, noting that one-third of Pakistan remained submerged under water more than six months after floods struck the country.
“A terrifying wall of water killed more than 1,700 people, injured thousands more, and affected a total of more than 33 million, displacing eight million people,” Guterres said. “It swept over roads, ruined millions of acres of agricultural land, and damaged or destroyed two million homes.”
He said nine million more people have been pushed to the brink of poverty, and they need and deserve international support.
Guterres added Pakistan, which represented less than one percent of global emissions, did not cause the climate crisis, yet was one of its biggest victims. Countries on the frontlines of climate catastrophe needed massive support, he said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif agreed, saying a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment carried out in October estimated total damages and economic losses topped $30 billion. He said rehabilitation and resilient reconstruction needs were assessed at over $16 billion. Half that amount would come from Pakistan’s domestic and development budget, he said, and the other half from international support.
“I am asking for a sustained international support plan to meet this daunting challenge,” Sharif said. “I am asking for a new lifeline for people who need to power our economy and re-enter the 21st century with a future that is protected from such extreme risk to human security.”
In response to this call, some countries have pledged significant sums of money. The United States, for example, has said it would provide $100 million. This brings the U.S. government’s total contribution to Pakistan since the middle of August to more than $200 million.
Speaking from Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron told the conference his country would mobilize more than $300 million for resilient reconstruction and climate adaptation.
Sharif noted that the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank had announced a figure of $4.2 billion, the largest contribution so far.