LAHORE: A media sensitization seminar on sustainable transport and existing issues in Pakistan’s transport sector was organized by IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, under the Pakistan Sustainable Transport (PAKSTRAN) Project.
The PAKSTRAN Project is being implemented by the Government of Pakistan, through the Government of Sindh (Transport Department), Government of Punjab (Urban Unit, Planning and Development Department) and IUCN. As part of this Project, IUCN has the mandate for creating awareness among the public and for capacity building.
The event, attended by media personnel, government representatives, experts in sustainable transport, aimed at creating awareness amongst the media, and mustering support for the introduction and public awareness of sustainable transport concepts.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan, said that to address the transport and related problems in the country, IUCN has partnered with the government to carry forward the agenda of sustainable transportation in Pakistan. With a specific focus on the seminar’s significance for Lahore, Mr. Cheema noted, “Lahore is the second largest urban center of Pakistan – and a provincial capital with a booming population. The transport demand is immense and with rising incomes the demand for higher quality transport is increasing drastically.” He added that over the past 15 years the rapid growth in population and vehicle ownership had steadily worsened traffic congestion in the city, and it was high time efforts were made towards easing the woes of the people through introducing the concepts and models of sustainable transport. “The role the media is playing for raising awareness is considered crucial to educating people about the concept of sustainable transportation, and enhanced awareness about sustainable transport is expected to pave the way for planning and development decisions that are to be taken in Pakistan regarding sustainable urban transport concepts.”
In his remarks Dr. Saleem Janjua, National Project Manager, PAKSTRAN, Ministry of Water and Power, Government of Pakistan said that the objective of the PAKSTRAN project is to reduce the growth of energy consumption and reduce emissions and add toward the global efforts in mitigating the emission and improve the urban development. While Pakistan is not a major contributor to global greenhouse emissions (GNG), it nevertheless runs the risk of being severely impacted by the negative effects of GNG emissions occurring globally. Therefore, it is important that efforts are made today by bringing about sustainable models in public transport and making people aware of their importance and the ease such initiatives could bring to them – and the media could play an integral part in promoting the understanding of sustainability concepts in the urban transport sector.”In response to media queries, Dr. Janjua cited various international models of sustainable transportand how they related to the transport situation in Pakistan’s urban centers.
Ms. Munazza Naqvi, Program Officer, Environment and Climate Change, UNDP, highlighted the need for bringing about behavioural change amongst the public, especially in the upcoming generation. She suggested that: “There is a need to learn from previous similar initiatives on sustainable transport, and it is essential that there is proper coordination amongst stakeholders, and lessons from media sensitization eventsare incorporated into future planof action.”
Mr. Muhammad Aqib Uddin, an eminent specialist in the subject, stressed the need for having an integrated transport system for cities like Lahore and Karachi so as to harness economic growth and deflating social pressures arising as a result of crippling and unsustainable transport system. He warned that a development model for transport sector that aims only at infrastructure development would not be sustainable in the longer run.