Pakistan is at a very critical crossroads: How does it manage its fast decreasing per capita water availability, erratic river flows and changing water regime due to climate change. These issues were discussed at a conference organized by the Hisaar Foundation in association with Engro Foundation, here at Karachi’s Movenpick Hotel. His excellency, Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Governor of Sind attended the opening session as Chief Guest and remarked that the water issue has become critical and that he appreciates the efforts of citizen based organizations such as Hisaar Foundation to take steps to overcome some of the challenges. Ms. Simi Kamal, founder of Hisaar Foundation spoke to the Panjwani Hisaar Water Institute at NED University of Engineering and Technology which aims to integrate the currently isolated nodes of engineering, natural sciences, economics and social sciences. The water institute will be the first of its kind in Pakistan and the region, with one foot in academia and the other in good citizenship.
The conference opened with a plenary session on “The Future of Water in a Politically Challenged New World Order” with a keynote address by one of the world’s leading authorities on water, Professor David Grey, visiting professor at Oxford University. Mr. Rudolph Cleveringa, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership, H.E. Mr. Istvan Szabo, Ambassador, Embassy of Hungary, Mr. Ghias Khan, CEO, Engro Corporation, Ms. Simi Kamal, Senior Group Head Grants, PPAF and Mr. Zohair Ashir, Chairperson, Hisaar Foundation were among the other presenters at the opening session.
The opening Plenary was followed by a series of sessions exploring issues such as the water economy, water stewardship and water in academia. In the session on water economy, facilitated by Mr. Zohair Ashir, Chairman, Hisaar Foundation, and chaired by Mr. Muzammil Hussain, Chairman, WAPDA, Dr. Salman Shah, former Finance Minister delivered the keynote address on the shifting of development paradigm of Pakistan through water and Ehsan Malik of Pakistan Business Council. In the session on water stewardship chaired by Mr. Aliuddin Ansari, former CEO Engro Corporation, Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Hungary, Dr. Istvan Grafjodi spoke of the Hungarian water sector, especially in relation to tied credit. In the same session, Aatekah Mir-Khan, Senior Manager Public Affairs Nestlé Pakistan talked about how Nestle, “has taken the lead in adopting Water Stewardship locally.”
Vice Chancellors of several universities including Dr. Sarosh Lodi of NEDUET also came together to discuss on how to promote water related studies within their respective universities. Another session with notable speakers such as Dr. Marianne Kjellen, senior water advisor, UNDP and Shamsuddin Sheikh, CEO Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company explored the ways in which the water economy can be leveraged for poverty alleviation. Another session had Dr. Zaigham Habib, Dr. Lubna Ghazal, Ms. Daanika Kamal and Mr. ZulfIqar Halepoto explore the visible impacts of climate change.
The first day of the conference closed on a high note with Seema Taher Khan of News One and TV One launching a website on “water warriors” for youth activation. In the same session, Umair Jaswal of Coke Studio fame, also launched a new song on water which had the youth mesmerized.