ISLAMABAD: The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (Akah) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the office of sustainability, National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust), to develop sustainable habitat plans for disaster-prone valleys in northern Pakistan.
According to a press release issued by Nust, through the partnership Akah will collaborate with Nust to develop habitat plans for five valleys in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral that are vulnerable to climate change induced disasters.
“The partners will conduct socioeconomic, cultural and environmental assessments and research to develop innovative contextual spatial plans with rigorous stakeholder participation. The habitat plans will provide a road map for all development partners and stakeholders to optimise resources and help build safe and resilient habitat where individuals, families and communities can thrive,” said the press release.
In his remarks, Dr Rizwan Riaz, pro-rector RIC Nust, said: “Embedding core principles of sustainability is one of the strategic aims of Nust. We aim to align all of Nust’s core functions i.e. academics and students’ engagement, research and innovation, operations and governance and stakeholders management with the UN SDGs thereby transforming Nust into an SDG-engaged, 4th generation university in Pakistan”.
Nawab Ali Khan, chief executive officer of Akah, said: “In the last few years, Pakistan has faced the worst impact of climate-induced disasters of its history. Precious lives have been lost, millions of people have become homeless and the country has suffered major economic losses.”
One of the accentuating causes is that people build on unsafe locations. Akah believes that this major loss and human suffering can be significantly reduced by building in locations that are safer and that provide future growth opportunities, he added.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the development of existing and future settlements is based on proper planning that incorporates scientific and indigenous knowledge. He said the partnership agreement between Nust and Akah will bring together the scientific and field-based knowledge to develop context-specific and research driven solutions in order to create resilient communities in Pakistan.