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Pakistan’s new national sustainable development strategy (NSDS) boasts a ‘green action agenda’ and proposes to set up a knowledge management system that is based on science, technology and innovation.

The strategy document, presented at a side-event at the Rio+20 summit last month (22 June), is linked with the country’s climate adaptation strategies.

Jawed Malik, secretary at Pakistan’s newly formed ministry of climate change, told SciDev.Net that the NSDS is expected to be cleared by the government at the end of July.

The strategy is expected to help steer the country – hit by a string of natural disasters that includes two devastating floods, three cyclones and an earthquake since 1999 – towards sustainable economic growth.

"Collectively leveraging knowledge and innovation would certainly deliver results for future sustainability," the strategy paper says.

The NSDS envisions knowledge management systems that support key economic, environmental and social goals through academic research and foster solution-driven innovation for policy, information gathering, and technology development.

Details are yet to be worked out, but the strategy is expected to attract support from donors and the private sector by being in sync with the UN millennium development goals and the proposed sustainable development goals

Pakistan’s economic growth has slumped to 2.6 per cent in the past three years and the country is beset by large inefficiencies in the agriculture, energy and water sectors, putting stress on natural resources

High population growth, rapid urbanisation, weak enforcement of environment regulations, and rising numbers of internally displaced persons are among other challenges

"Pakistan is at the apex of climate vulnerability in Asia," Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, chief executive officer of the non-government organisation, Leadership for Environment and Development, said

The estimated cost of adapting to future climate impacts is US$14 billion each year for the next 40 years, according to the NSDS document.

"Most of Pakistan’s landmass is vulnerable to extreme events and they will need investments in adaptive capacity," Anjum Assad Amin, member of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, said.

Disaster vulnerability along the Indus river is high, while the country’s drought zone extends from Baluchistan to the Thar desert.

"There is an inescapable linkage between climate impacts and sustaining future development in the country," the strategy document notes.

The country’s chief climate change goals include disaster risk reduction and management; vulnerability mapping; community-based adaptation; sustainable land management and building climate resilient infrastructure.