Experts call for raising greater awareness about emission impacts

KARACHI: Pakistan Sustainable Transport (PAKSTRAN) Project organized a media sensitization seminar in Karachi today to raise awareness about the significance of sustainable transport, adverse impacts of carbon emissions, and the issues of mass transit systems in the country.

A large number of representatives from the print and electronic media participated in the event wherein panellists, including representatives of the academia, discussed issues of carbon emission and highlighted opportunities for bringing about sustainable transport in Pakistan’s urban centres.

The seminar was aimed at leveraging the media outreach to create awareness across different segments of society, especially vehicle owners.

In his opening remarks, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative of IUCN Pakistan said, “The transport sector in Pakistan has linkages with economic and social development and environmental improvements, so all possible measures must be promoted to improve the urban transport activity in Pakistan.” He appreciated the involvement of the media in maintaining a positive approach towards the issue of public transport in the country.

PAKSTRAN is being implemented by the Government of Pakistan through the Government of Sindh (Transport Department), Government of Punjab (Urban Unit, Planning and Development Department) and IUCN. The project among other aims focuses on the development of mass transit systems in Pakistan that are safe, clean and comfortable for the citizens. “This five-year project with a funding of $7.8 million was aimed at reducing the growth of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. “These objectives would be achieved through planning and implementation of integrated urban transport systems,” explained Syed Kamran Haider Naqvi, urban specialist at IUCN.

“The world’s largest single environmental health risk is air pollution,” explained Dr. Zafar Fatimi, Head, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, during his presentation. Dr. Fatmi informed the participants that the broad impact of outdoor air pollution was “not only on human health, but also on agriculture and climate and contributed significantly to global warming.” He added that “lungs are more exposed to the environment than any other part of the body, and therefore more susceptible to impact.” He suggested that public transport regulation and control, could contribute to containing the congestion and emission issues.

Dr. Mir Shabbar Ali, Chairman, Urban and Infrastructure Department, at NED University, said that the public transport is the safest, cheapest and the most efficient mode of travelling. He accentuated the need for separate right of way for public transport that could reduce conflicts in traffic stream and possibilities of accidents. While sharing data on road accidents in Pakistan, he informed that in 67% of the accidents motorcycles were involved.

Speaking on the occasion, PAKSTRAN Component Manager Ms. Fauzia Malik stressed that it was essential to link the media with practitioners for translating research into action. She appreciated the efforts being made by the media in promoting urban mobility in a more sustainable way.