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Pakistan's planning commission has established a task force to investigate the impact of climate change on the country's agriculture, economy and natural resources.

According to a World Bank report, the country loses 365 billion Pakistani rupees (US$4.5 billion) annually from environmental disasters.

Ishfaq Ahmad, science and technology advisor to the prime minister and chairman of the task force, told SciDev.Net that they will undertake a serious effort to understand the effects of climate change on the natural environment and important sectors such as agriculture, the economy, energy and water resources, and assess the resulting losses to these sectors.

Following these analyses, Ahmad says, "We will formulate a policy or action plan and undertake mitigation and adaptation efforts."

He adds they hope to further broaden the task force and allocate funds for potential projects.

Syed Arsalan from the Leadership for Environment and Development's (LEAD) programme development department emphasises the importance of the task force.

He told SciDev.Net that his organisation has already devised an adaptation strategy for climate change for Pakistan and carried out a vulnerability assessment in the light of UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change findings.

Former director-general of the Pakistan Council for Industrial Research and an environmental impact assessment expert, Mirza Arshad Ali Baig, says it is important for Pakistani scientists to develop their own reports, models and simulations based on the physical changes they see.

He says he has less confidence in imported or third party simulations, reports and assessments.

The task force will be co-chaired by Shamsul Mulk, the former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and include Shafqat Kakakhel, former deputy executive director of the UN Environment Programme, and other members include the heads of WAPDA, the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the Global Change Impact Studies Centre and LEAD.