Pakistan is at a very critical crossroads: How does it manage its fast decreasing per capita water availability, erratic river flows and changing water regime due to climate change. These issues were discussed at a conference organized by the Hisaar Foundation in association with Engro Foundation, here at Karachi’s Movenpick Hotel. His excellency, Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Governor of Sind attended the opening session as Chief Guest and remarked that the water issue has become critical and that he appreciates the efforts of citizen based organizations such as Hisaar Foundation to take steps to overcome some of the challenges. Ms. Simi Kamal, founder of Hisaar Foundation spoke to the PanjwaniHisaar Water Institute at NED University of Engineering and Technology which aims to integrate the currently isolated nodes of engineering, natural sciences, economics and social sciences. The water institute will be the first of its kind in Pakistan and the region, with one foot in academia and the other in good citizenship.
The conference opened with a plenary session on “The Future of Water in a Politically Challenged New World Order” with a keynote address by one of the world’s leading authorities on water, Professor David Grey, visiting professor at Oxford University. Mr. Rudolph Cleveringa, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership, H.E. Mr. Istvan Szabo, Ambassador, Embassy of Hungary, Mr. Ghias Khan, CEO, Engro Corporation, Ms. Simi Kamal, Senior Group Head Grants, PPAF and Mr. ZohairAshir, Chairperson, Hisaar Foundation were among the other presenters at the opening session.
The opening Plenary was followed by a series of sessions exploring issues such as the water economy, water stewardship and water in academia. In the session on water economy, facilitated by Mr. Zohair Ashir, Chairman, Hisaar Foundation, and chaired byMr. Muzammil Hussain, Chairman, WAPDA, Dr. Salman Shah, former Finance Minister delivered the keynote address on the shifting of development paradigm of Pakistan through water and Ehsan Malik of Pakistan Business Council. In the session on water stewardship chaired by Mr. Aliuddin Ansari, former CEO Engro Corporation, Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Hungary, Dr. Istvan Grafjodi spoke of the Hungarian water sector, especially in relation to tied credit. In the same session, Aatekah Mir-Khan, Senior Manager Public Affairs Nestlé Pakistan talked about how Nestle, “has taken the lead in adopting Water Stewardship locally.”
Vice Chancellors of several universities including Dr. Sarosh Lodi of NEDUET also came together to discuss on how to promote water related studies within their respective universities. Another session with notable speakers such as Dr. Marianne Kjellen, senior water advisor, UNDP and Shamsuddin Sheikh, CEO Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company explored the ways in which the water economy can be leveraged for poverty alleviation. Another session had Dr. Zaigham Habib, Dr. Lubna Ghazal, Ms. Daanika Kamal and Mr. ZulfIqar Halepoto explore the visible impacts of climate change.
The first day of the conference closed on a high note with Seema Taher Khan of News One and TV One launching a website on “water warriors” for youth activation. In the same session, Umair Jaswal of Coke Studio fame, also launched a new song on water which had the youth mesmerized.
Sessions of 2nd day took stock of the development of the federal and provincial water policies, explored water security and negotiating conflicts and benefits around water, and also looked at urban water management issues. Professor David Grey, visiting professor from Oxford University and Dr. Claudia Sadoff, Director General, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) chaired and co-chaired the session on water policy, while Dr. Noman Ahmed of NEDUET chaired the session on Urban water and Mr. Khalid Mohtaduallah, member HF Think Tank on Rational Use of Water chaired the session on negotiating conflicts.
One session “When Albert Einstein meets Alan Turing – water solutions from the world of science and technology” centered aroundshowcasing solutions, in whichDr. Abubakr Mohammad, Director, WIT- LUMS gave examples of where technology has made a difference. Another session looked at unusual ways in which women have helped other women to meet their water, sanitation and other needs, specifically how city women of Karachi have helped their sisters in Thar, and others, especially towards building resilience to cope with the changing climate. Also how the National and Provincial Commissions on Status of Women can add water to their agenda. Statements were made by Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Ms. Nuzhat Shireen, Ms. Neelum Khan Toru and Ms. Fouzia Viqar, chairpersons of the provincial commissions on the status of women.
The second day and the conference were ended on a summary of all the sessions and conference declaration. Mr. Rafay Alam announced the Conference Declaration and Dr. Claudia Sadoff, Professor David Grey, Mr. Rudolph Cleveringa, were among the speakers at the closing plenary. An MOU was also signed between Hisaar Foundation and We in Janos Foundation of Hungary. In the end the Chairperson of Hisaar Foundation, Mr. Zohair Ashir announced the fourth Karachi International Water Conference which is scheduled for November 2019.