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Pakistan recognizes that improving and completing vulnerability assessments is only the first step in assisting countries in identifying and implementing appropriate adaptation options. As noted in Pakistan's Initial National Communication, there is a strong need for improving information sharing, education and training, technical and scientific research inorder to articulate an effective adaptation plan. There is a requirement for identifying appropriate technologies for adaptation well-suited to local conditions and builds on the indigenous knowledge of the area. Pakistan needs support in implementing the various adaptation measures identified in the Initial National Communication. Assistance is needed to undertake research to enhance local capacity and infrastructure for planning for integrated coastal management.

Pakistan occupies a land area of over 880,000 square kilometers and forms part of the South Asian subcontinent. It is bordered by India on the east, China on the northeast, and Iran and Afghanistan on the west. The country has a diverse topography that includes permafrost and alpine regions, temperate, topical and sub-tropical ecosystems, and coastal areas. Pakistan’s diversity extends to its climatic, socioeconomic, and environmental characteristics, which differ significantly from region to region. The country has four provinces, the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Sindh, Balochistan, and two federally administrated territories: the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Northern Areas. In addition, the territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), is under the administration of the Government of Pakistan. Each province or territory is further divided into administrative units known as districts. Pakistan’s coastline with the Arabian Sea stretches to over 990 km. It consists of two distinct units in terms of physiographic outline and geological characteristics. The coastal and offshore geology of Pakistan tectonically exhibits both active and passive features.


Pakistan enjoys a considerable measure of variety. The north and north-western high mountain ranges are extremely cold in winter while the summer months from April to September are very pleasant. The vast plains of the Indus Valley are extremely hot in summer and have cold weather in winter. The coastal strip in the south has a temperate climate. There is general deficiency in rainfall. In the plains the annual average rainfall ranges from 13 cm in the northern parts of the lower Indus plains to 89 cm in the Himalayan region. Rains are monsoonal in origin and fall late in summer. Average rainfall is 76 cm per annum.

Natural hazards

Frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)

Major environmental issues

Water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification. _Sources: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) - For Mountains and People. Updated: Tue, 16 Jun 2009_

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A. Adaptation Needs and Priorities
Pakistan’s climate change concerns include increased variability of monsoons, the likely impact of receding Himalayan glaciers on the Indus River system, decreased capacity of water reservoirs, reduced hydropower during drought years, and extreme events including floods and droughts. Other potential climate change induced impacts  include: severe water stress; food insecurity due to decreasing agricultural and livestock production; more prevalent pests and weeds; degradation of ecosystems; biodiversity loss; and northward shifting of some biomes. As well, higher temperatures may affect the composition, distribution and productivity of mangroves, while lower precipitation could contribute to salt stress.
Pakistan’s  Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reports on climate projections generated using the Model for Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change software. The National Communication notes that the impact of climate change on Pakistan’s water supply is likely to be significant, which would also have an impact on the country’s energy supply; 34 per cent of Pakistan’s electricity generation is based on hydropower (MOE, 2003). Climate change is also anticipated to have a considerable impact on the country’s agricultural system, with possible impacts including vulnerability to heat stress, shifts in the spatial boundaries of crops, changes in productivity, and changes in water availability and use (MOE, 2003). Climate change may also impact forestry through changes in forest area, productivity changes, and changes in species composition and distribution. As well as Pakistan’s coastal zones, particularly the city of Karachi, could be affected by coastal erosion and inundation through sea level rise. The country’s National Communication also notes the potential impact of climate change on the livestock sector and biodiversity, as well as socioeconomic impacts on health and food security. 
Pakistan is also likely to experience frequent occurrence of severe cyclones and storm surges due to rising atmospheric and sea temperatures. These events, accompanied by rising sea levels, could threaten coastal cities such as Karachi, Thatta and Badin. Combined with decreased river flow and sediments dispersal, sea level rise would mean a landward penetration of the salt water wedge within the groundwater column. This process of salt water intrusion would significantly influence access to water resources in Pakistan’s coastal communities. As well, coastal infrastructure will be especially affected. Key assets like Gwader Port and the Coastal Highway could need extra protection.
Given these concerns, Pakistan outlined a number of possible adaptation options by key socioeconomic category in its Initial National Communication; additional recommendations were put forward in 2010 by Pakistan’s Task Force on Climate Change.  
B. National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
Over the past several years, Pakistan has undertaken several policy and planning initiatives with respect to climate change, and  is preparing  a formal climate change strategy.  In 2003, it submitted its National Communication to the UNFCCC, and in  2005 it established the Prime Minister’s Committee on Climate Change, an overarching body that meets annually to monitor climate change trends and provide policy guidance. In addition, in October 2008, the Planning Commission—the body responsible for preparing the National Plans for the country’s main economic sectors—established a Task Force on Climate Change that was given responsibility forpreparing the country’s climate change policy. The Task Force released its Final Report in 2010, which outlines the country’s current approach to addressing climate change from both a mitigation and adaptation perspective, including key recommended adaptationmeasures in priority socioeconomic areas (GOP, 2010). In addition, various sectoral strategies,  including the National Conservation Strategy, National Environmental Policy, National Water Policy, and National Forest Policy (draft), also make mention of the potential impacts of climate change. 
In the international arena, Pakistan has endorsed all of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s declarations on climate change, including the 2010 Thimphu Declaration. As well, it is possible that the 2010 floods in Pakistan (the most severe in its history) have prompted the Pakistani policy makers to accelerate the process of drafting a national policy and action plan on climate  change. Pakistan has already stepped up its effort to claim its due share of support from global sources, particularly from those available through the United Nations. For example, at the September 2010 General Assembly of the UN, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister remarked, “Climate change, with all its severity and unpredictability, has become a reality for 170 million Pakistanis. The present situation in Pakistan reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.” Pakistan is lobbying to clarify and broaden understanding of the phrase “particularly vulnerable developing countries” in future UN agreements (Khan, 2010).  
C. Current Adaptation Action
The number of adaption focused projects and programs underway in Pakistan (as presented in Table 3) is moderate in comparison to other South Asian countries. The majority of these projects involve countries in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and/or Latin America and the Caribbean.  Water is the sector most represented in Pakistan’s current adaptation initiatives, followed by risk reduction, policy formulation, agriculture, energy, forestry, coastal zones, and nature. Donors of these projects include the  Adaptation Fund,  Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department for International Development (DFID), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Italy, the Netherlands and World Bank with implementation organizations including the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and United Nations Environment Programme. The  Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) is currently considering funding two regional projects in Pakistan and other Asian countries, both of which focus on agriculture and water considerations.
D. Proposed Adaptation Action
Pakistan is expected to participate in a few national and regional projects that are presently being developed, as described below:
  • Technical Assistance Loan for the Implementation of the National Environment Policy.  Objectives include (1) Multi-sector project with opportunities for climate resilient agriculture, (2) drinking water and sanitation, (3) water and disaster management, and (4) better governance.
  • Information Sharing System to Enhance Coping Capacities of Farming Communities in Dealing Effectively with Climate Variability and Climate Change
  • Building Climate Resiliency for Irrigation Infrastructure and Agro-Business.


Islam, Faisal; Hove, Hilary; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: South Asia.” Adaptation Patnership/International Institute for Sustainable Development, pp.137-149.  

Additional References

Government of Pakistan [GOP] (2010). Task Force on Climate Change: Final Report. Planning Commission. 
Ministry of Environment (2003). Initial National Communication on Climate Change. Retrieved from
Daily News (2010). Policy on climate change being finalized: Zardari. Retrieved from 
Khan, R.S. (2010). Flood-hit Pakistan seeks priority access to climate change aid. AlertNet. Retrieved from