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ISLAMABAD, Dec 20 (APP):Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Sunday said World Bank and Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) would jointly conduct a three-month study on Pakistan’s ocean waters for assessment of carbons sequestered by the country’s ocean waters and mangroves forests.

A detailed blueprint has been hatched up to assess economic value of millions of tons of carbons stored in ocean waters and mangroves in the country, said a press release issued here.

The study would not only help identify the scale of Pakistan’s ocean waters’ carbon storage potential but also help weigh up the amount of carbons storage capacity of the country’s entire ocean eco-system as well as the carbons stored so far in the ocean waters and coastal mangroves forests,” Malik Amin Aslam said.

While talking to media here on Sunday, Pakistan Blue Carbon and Eco-system Assessment Strategy has been agreed upon between the world bank and ministry of Climate Change.
He told media that “we believe the country’s ocean waters have stored carbons into them so far, of which economic value is estimated at billions of dollars”.

Recalling Pakistan’s win in a case regarding seabed territory, the PM’s aide said the country’s seabed territory expanded by around 50,000 square kilometres in year 2015 after a UN body accepted Islamabad’s claim for extension of sea limits.

“On 19 March 2015, United Nations’ Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) had completed its review and accepted Pakistan’s claim for extension of its continental shelf limits, thereby extending Pakistan’s sea limits from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles,” he recalled.

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Following the acceptance of the claim, Pakistan’s offshore territory of 240,000sqkm expanded by another 50,000sqkm allowing the country to benefit from the natural resources contained in it.

However, with the blue carbon eco-system and carbon storage assessment strategy prepared for implementation soon will help capitalize the carbon storage potential of the increased ocean belt as well as the country’s mangrove cover, which would be applied at industrial scale, he said.

Explaining about blue economy, he said that the blue economy is an emerging popular concept, which encompasses around protecting the oceans and sustainable use of natural resources including water for sustainable growth and development.

The blue economy concept also supports for sustainable usage of ocean resources for economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas as well as promotion of environmental-friendly activities including renewable energy, fisheries, maritime transport, coastal tourism, waste management and climate change risk management.

The coastal ecosystems of mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows provide plenty of benefits and environmental services that are vital for climate change adaptation along coastlines, including protection from storms and sea level-rise, coastal erosion, coastal water quality contamination, provision of habitat for commercially important fisheries and endangered marine species and food security for many coastal communities.

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“Therefore, these vital ecosystems sequester and store significant amounts of coastal blue carbon from the atmosphere and ocean; which is why, these coastal ecosystems are now considered of unprecedented importance for their role in climate change mitigation,” Malik Amin Aslam emphasised.

It’s a matter of sorry, he said, that despite these numerous benefits and services, coastal blue carbon ecosystems are some of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, with an estimated annually 340,000 to 980,000 hectares being eroded.

Mangroves provide at least US$ 1.6 billion annually in ecosystem services, which consist of supporting fisheries by providing critical spawning grounds for commercial fish species; filtering pollutants and contaminants from coastal waters and contributing to healthy coastal marine water quality; and protecting coastal development and communities against storms, floods and erosion.

However, we hope the launching of one billion mangroves tree plantation initiative under the country’s largest afforestation programme (TBTTP) and conducting multi-year assessment study of blue economy potential of the country would go a long way to protect and conserve natural resources of coastal areas, mitigate climate risks facing coastal communities and their livelihood and mitigate the adverse impacts of the climate change, he said.