Pakistan missed the deadline to sign a formal agreement with the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) fund worth $3.8 million because of the bureaucracy’s lethargy.
FCPF is a World Bank facility set up to support developing countries in carbon emission reduction by preserving their forests. The closing date to sign the formal agreement for funding with the World Bank was March 31, 2014.
A draft agreement was dispatched to the Economic Affairs Division for approval in January. Sources at the CCD revealed that the division’s forest wing had forwarded the draft to the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting, however, the ministry did not reply in time, causing the division to miss its deadline.
In order to secure the funding, Pakistan had submitted revised Readiness Preparation Proposals (RPP) to the Facility Management Team (FMT) and had to sign the RPP grant agreement within 14 months of the grant allocation offer.
Pakistan was among eight countries out of the total of 27 countries that were selected for the FCPF grant. The other countries selected included Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Fiji, Nigeria, Togo and the Dominican Republic.
After Pakistan missed the deadline, the grant was given to an alternate country.
According to sources privy to the issue, some officials at the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) raised objections against the grant soon after the EAD reached an agreement. The objections centred on how a two-member delegation negotiated without acquiring a no-objection certificate from the division.
The two-member delegation that had approached the World Bank comprised of Inspector General of Forests Nasir Mehmood and Biodiversity Programme Director Naeem Ashraf Raja.
The sources argued that it was a mistake on the part of the EAD officers who failed to get an NOC from the relevant department.
Reducing carbon emissions could earn Pakistan $4 to $12 billion per annum through emissions credits and other incentives.
In a bid to mitigate the impact of climate change and secure international funding for reduction in greenhouse gases emissions, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was set up in Ministry of Environment — now the Climate Change Division — under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
CDM had forwarded a request for the FCPF grant in 2007-08, which was denied due to the lack of readiness. Later, the IG Forests’ Office was tasked with preparing funding proposals. It took around three years for the proposals to be drafted and get approval for the grant from the World Bank Technical Advisory Panel in Geneva.
Pakistan has forests on over 4.4 million hectares, 5.1 per cent of the total area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, among the highest deforestation rates in the world.
Environmental experts believe that missing the opportunity could further increase deforestation.
Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.