Vote for candidate who values environmt: SDPI

Pakistan’s first ever Environment Barometer survey cited high temperature, water scarcity and air pollution as top three environmental challenges of Pakistan. Regarding provincial government’s efforts to address these challenges, 40% respondents from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) believed that their government took some measures to tackle these challenges, followed by Punjab with 28% respondents, Sindh with 26% and Balochistan with 20%.

However, despite believing that these challenges were negatively impacting their health, majority of the public did not see environmental protection as a determinant for their choice of candidate.

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The Environment Barometer was jointly conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and an English magazine to assess people’s perceptions on environmental issues and government’s role in environmental sphere.

Presenting the findings of the Barometer SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri said the barometer was aimed to assess people’s perceptions on environment issues. He said that voters need to prioritise environmental issues such as heat-waves, water scarcity, climatic change and environment friendly development; he urged voters to keep environmental protection in mind when casting their votes.

According to the survey, 89 per cent of respondents believed that these environmental issues are negatively impacting their health, 74% of respondents said the impact was on their livelihood and 68% believed that their day to day social life was negatively impacted.

The voters’ response on government’s actions to combat challenges of the environment was very dismal, wherein only four per cent of respondents were satisfied with their respective government’s measures and demanded that their government takes substantial action to combat environmental threats. Furthermore, voters’ response on the environment as a determinant for their vote in coming election was depressing, where only 13% respondents said they prioritise environment, and saw it as a determinant for casting their vote.

As per the survey, 87% respondent believed that human activities are largely responsible for these environmental issues, followed 75% of people believing they were due to natural causes and 74% cited population growth as a major factor.

Associate Research Fellow Dr Shafqat Munir said majority of voters did not include environmental issues as determinants for voting in the 2018 elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2018.

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