Geneva conference: Donors pledge over $10.5bn for Pakistan

Pakistan has secured total pledges of $10.57 billion from multilateral and bilateral creditors for reconstruction in flood-affected areas in Pakistan during the International Conference on Climate Resistant Pakistan held in Geneva on Monday.

The conference was co-hosted by Pakistan and the United Nations. The information minister in a series of tweets said that International community and development partners are demonstrating exemplary compassion for flood victims at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan and Islamic development bank group has pledged $4.2 billion over three years.

She added that World Bank Vice President for South Asia Martin Raiser announced $2 billion. The first plenary of day-long Geneva conference culminated in generousoutpouring of int l community, EU pledged $93 million, Germany $88 million, China $100 million, IDB $4.2 billion, WB $2 billion, Japan $77 million, ADB $1.5 billion.

USAID $100 million, France $345 million, total $8.57 billion. The brotherly country Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged $1 billion to assist Pakistan in daunting task of resilient recovery and rehabilitation [of] millions, she said.

Marriyum said that in second plenary phase of Geneva moot, development partners are exploring collaborative ways to build back better. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has pledged $1 billion to build back better climate resilient infrastructure& adaptation.

Addressing a joint news conference along with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Geneva, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, meanwhile, assured complete transparency in the utilisation of funds to be provided by the international community for a Climate Resilient Pakistan.

He said a third party validation mechanism has been put in place for this purpose. Shehbaz said that we have already spent $400,000,000 to provide basic support to 2 7 million households while $575 million has been spent on cash in kind support.

The prime minister said that now we have to go for rehabilitation of our infrastructure and enable people rebuild their livelihoods. He said we would generate about $8 billion domestically but we are looking forward for an equal share of eight billion dollars from the international community.

The prime minister said Pakistan in consultation with its friends and institutions presented a comprehensive framework plan for resilient recovery rehabilitation and reconstruction and it includes a robust financial mechanism.

Shehbaz Sharif said we look forward working closely with our friends and the people of Pakistan will always remember their support. He thanked the friendly countries and development partners for extending generous support during the conference.

In his remarks, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the world community to massively invest in building climate resilient infrastructure in Pakistan. He said Pakistan should also be provided access to technology and knowledge to withstand the future disasters.

He expressed the confidence that the Geneva conference will be the beginning of that massive investment. The UN secretary general said the people of Pakistan have always demonstrated resilience and generosity from enduring the national disasters and terrorism to hosting millions of Afghan refugees. He said this resilience and generosity needs to be matched by the international community.

The UN secretary general renewed his call to the global leaders and multilateral development banks to create ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing when they needed the most.

Guterres said it is time for meaningful climate action, adding that the decisions taken at the climate summit in Sharm al Sheikh, Egypt must be implemented and that the developed countries must deliver on their commitments.

In his remarks at a plenary, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar said the support from friendly countries and multilateral donors would not only help carry out flood relief and rehabilitation work but also create fiscal space and external debt sustainability for the country and reinforce its efforts to implement the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

“Pakistan remains committed to its international obligations and is on track regarding its fiscal reforms agenda which focuses on increasing revenues, decreasing expenditures and creating thereby more fiscal space for the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase which we have to undertake in Pakistan,” the finance minister said.

“Pakistan is carrying out the fiscal reforms necessary for long-term recovery and sustainability but we urgently need short-term assistance to navigate a number of challenges,” he added.

Dar hoped that Pakistan’s friends and partners would always stand with it by providing it with the required assistance during this most critical phase. “Options such as debt swaps by friendly countries would also free up resources to be spent for this noble purpose.”

Earlier, addressing the conference, ADB’s Vice President Shixin Chen lauded the timely completion of the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework (4RF) derived from the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which demonstrated the strong leadership of the government of Pakistan with the joint efforts of development partners.

The framework forms a strong basis for the government’s comprehensive disaster recovery plans, with principles and priorities for future action set out over the short-, medium-, and long-term.

“We highly commend the ownership of both national and provincial governments being well embedded in the framework. The ADB is pleased to be part of this strategic task with the government of Pakistan and other development partners,” he said.

Pakistan, despite its very low carbon emissions, is one of the countries most affected by extreme weather events. The floods highlight the importance of building back better with climate resilience. We are very pleased to see the framework reflect the fact that investing in infrastructure alone cannot build resilience – rather a concerted, comprehensive, and long-term commitment can help to reduce risk, he said.

“We believe it is critical that reconstruction work shall be coupled with efforts on macroeconomic stabilisation and good governance for recovery. It is also important that climate adaptation ecosystem should be institutionalised across all sectors. In the long run, investment in preventive, multifunctional disaster resilient infrastructure and early warning systems has to be prioritised. We also believe that responsible and accountable implementation and enforcement are pivotal to ensuring the success of the 4RF, the ADB VP said.

As Asia and the Pacific’s climate bank, ADB is aiming to deliver $100 billion in cumulative climate financing by 2030. The bank has acted swiftly to support Pakistan’s flood response.

“Beyond our contribution to the PDNA and the government’s 4RF, we approved a $557 million emergency flood-assistance package to Pakistan on top of a $1.5 billion countercyclical programme, which also partly supports social protection and food security in flood-affected areas. Meanwhile, sizable additional co-financing has been mobilised,” he said.

Speaking at the conference, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan faced an unprecedented devastation due to torrential rains and flooding in most parts of the country, and the spending on flood recovery in the country might cross $3 billion by June this year.

The minister said that Pakistan faced huge economic losses due to damage of infrastructure and loss of crops that led to significant losses in GDP, higher poverty rates, degradation of eco-system, degradation of environment and climate, job loss and disruption, degradation of environment and climate, while women and girls are also at risk of gender-based violence and child marriage.

The purpose of the conference is to get international support to rehabilitate the population affected by floods and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner. It is noted that the in October last year, the PDNA conducted jointly by Pakistan and its international development partners had estimated the aggregate cost of the calamity at $30.1 billion. This includes $14.9 billion in damages to infrastructure and $15.2 billion in economic losses. The minimum needs identified for recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction are estimated at $16.3 billion.

The minister said that out of the total $16.3 billion, the Pakistan government would spend 50 percent from its own resources, while it has requested the international community to help Pakistan with $8 billion during the next three years, so that Pakistan can rebuild its damaged infrastructure in the shortest possible time.

Iqbal said Pakistan’s economy was already in dire straits. The floods have caused a massive impact. The losses to the GDP as a direct consequence of this disaster are projected to be around 2.2 per cent in the financial year 2022. The agriculture sector accounts for the largest decline at 0.9 per cent. The recovery and reconstruction needs are projected at 1.6 times the budgeted national development expenditure for the Financial Year 2023, he added.

He said Pakistan was the hardest hit among the countries that faced extreme weather-related events and catastrophes last year. The monsoon rains, almost 400 percent above average in some parts, swamped vast arid regions. Hill torrents and flash floods washed away entire villages. The human and material costs of the disaster have been staggering. More than 1,700 lives lost, one third of who were children.

The poorest districts were most affected. Infrastructure losses included nearly 13,000 kilometres of roads, 400 bridges and several hundred dams, and over 25,000 schools and 1,500 health facilities, destroyed or damaged.

The Minister pointed out that the 2022 floods was of a scale never seen before as more than 8.4 to 9.1 million people were pushed into poverty, additional 7.6 million people were facing food insecurity, 17 million women and children were at greater risk of preventable disease, 4.3 million people were at danger of job loss/ disruption, and 640,000 women and girls at are at risk of gender-based violation and child marriage.

The objectives of the government’s recovery efforts are to improve governance and enhance capacity of state institutions, restore livelihood and economic opportunities, ensure social inclusion and participation in all aspects of recovery, said the minister, while appreciating the international partners for their continuous efforts since the flood came on surface.

Furthermore, he added that the long term resilient climate infrastructure development plan, he said is over $30 billion which involves national flood protection programme, building new infrastructure or re-engineering the existing infrastructure to cope with the shocks of climate-induced disasters.

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