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Reducing Risk and vulnerabilities from Glacial Lake Outburst   Floods in Northern Pakistan (Pakistan GLOF Project)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GLOF "LEARNING AND WAY FORWARD”

Islamabad, Pakistan

October 14, 2015

Glaciers in Pakistan are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high. According to joint report of Pakistan Meteorological Department and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, rapid melting of these glaciers has resulted in formation of 3044 glacial lakes and out of these, 36 Glacial Lakes have been classified as potentially dangerous and can trigger a GLOF event.

The first International Conference on Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) begins here in Islamabad to find out sustainable approaches to reduce risks and vulnerabilities from GLOFs by Pakistan GLOF Project, which is being implemented by Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with UNDP and Adaptation Fund.

Mr. Arif Ahmed Khan, Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan chaired the inaugural session. He highlighted the need to recognize the climate change-induced disasters like GLOF and make concrete efforts to reduce risks and vulnerabilities from these. If not addressed timely and efficiently; GLOFs in Pakistan are anticipated to become “Mountain Tsunami in the Making”. Climate Change is a multi-dimensional challenge and strong partnership and multi-lateral cooperation is required to deal with it. Ministry of Climate Change is implementing National Climate Change policy and implementation of the Pakistan GLOF project is part of such efforts. The main objectives of the project are: to develop the human and technical capacity of public institutions to understand and address immediate GLOF risks for vulnerable communities in Northern Pakistan and, to enable vulnerable local communities in Northern Areas of Pakistan to better understand and respond to GLOF risks and thereby adapt to growing climate change pressures. The project has demonstrated community based GLOF risk management interventions in Bagrot valley in Gilgit-Baltistan; Bindogol and Golain valleys in Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Policy initiatives, institutional strengthening, knowledge and information sharing and application of lessons learnt are the other outcomes of the project. He hoped that this conference will result in creation of new collaboration initiatives in near future.

While presenting her remarks, Ms. Tracy Vienings, Deputy Country Director (Program), UNDP informed that the Himalayas, Karakoram & Hindukush has the largest deposits of the glaciers out of the polar region and is considered as the Water Tower of the World. She hoped that the International GLOF Conference will provide all our local, national and international partners, policy makers and researchers an opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and lessons on climate change adaptation and GLOF Risk Reduction issues, and as a result new partnerships in Pakistan will be emerged. Mr. Ghulam Rasul, Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Islamabad presented a session on Climate related Disasters and Preparedness in Northern Pakistan.

Renowned international speakers and scholars from across the globe (Nepal, Bhutan, Switzerland, USA, Afghanistan, Netherlands, China including Pakistan) presented learning and experiences from their respective countries. The community leaders from project sites of Gilgit and Chitral also shared their experiences and achievements in GLOF risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

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