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From Potsdam to Pakistan: Confronting vulnerability by building climate research capacities

24.05.2013
Pakistan is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change – risks range from the disastrous 2010 floodings that acted as a wake-up call to retreating glaciers impacting freshwater supply.

To confront this challenge, the new Centre for Climate Research & Development (CCRD) took up its work this month – a substantial effort to build up indigenous scientific capacities in a place where substantial climate change impacts are actually happening. The centre has been developed in very close cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). A five-year-agreement envisages joint research projects and the exchange of scientists.

“As a risk-prone country, Pakistan is recognizing the signs of the time,” said Jürgen Kropp of PIK’s research domain ‘Climate Impacts and Vulnerability’ on his return from Islamabad. “We feel honoured by the fact that our fellow researchers asked us to support them in this endeavour.” Besides attending the official signing of the cooperation agreement, he met with the Assistant Coordinator General of COMSTECH, the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific Cooperation of the Organisation of the Islamic countries, whose headquarters are in Pakistan. “It is most encouraging how much interest these countries, from Indonesia to the Arabic peninsula, are taking in climate science,” said Kropp.

An institute “to provide support to institutions designing policies”

The CCRD has been set up “to promote research on the impacts of climate change and provide support to institutions in Pakistan in designing policies and programmes in the framework of the National Climate Change Policy,” Syed Muhammad Junaid Zaidi pointed out. He is the Founding Rector of the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), a university-like institution which hosts the new climate research unit. Like PIK, the new institute will work in an interdisciplinary manner, drawing from the skills of the CIIT’s departments of Earth Sciences, Meteorology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Sciences – all based on the same campus.

“The cooperation with PIK will help improving the quality of research in climate sciences at CIIT which is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Pakistan,” Ambassador Shahid Kamal said. He used to serve at the Embassy of Pakistan in Germany, has been participating in the negotiations held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is one of the originators of the cooperation between Potsdam and Pakistan.

Similar cooperation, different project: Qatar

In science, international cooperation is everyday business. “Yet we attribute great importance to this special project,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. “Those countries that contributed least to global greenhouse-gas emissions will suffer most from the resulting climate change. So we feel touched when one of the most important of these countries, Pakistan, turns to science to tackle the climate challenge.” At the same time, PIK also works with Qatar, a country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels, to create another climate research institute, Schellnhuber added. “It is science that can empower these countries, as different as they are, to shape their fate.”

For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-Mail: press@pik-potsdam.de
Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/PIK_climate

Mareike Schodder | PIK Potsdam
Further information:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de

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