The floods that hit Pakistan last September displaced some 8 million people and killed at least 1,700. According to the UN, the disaster-prone Asian nation now needs at least $16 billion in climate compensation to reestablish vital infrastructure and systems in flood-affected areas.

Pakistan needs at least US$16 billion in climate compensation to support economic recovery and rebuilding work after unprecedented floods, dubbed the “climate catastrophe of the century,” submerged one-third of the country last September.

In a bid to meet the towering needs and mobilise financial support, the United Nations and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif are holding the International Conference on Climate-Resilient Pakistan in Geneva on Monday. Delegates from 40 nations, including several heads of state and representatives of international financial institutions and development organisations, are expected to attend the summit.

In a statement released ahead of the summit, Sharif said that those affected by unprecedented devastation now “look for compassion & solidarity to build back better,” adding that “our actions today will shape the resilient future for our succeeding generations.”

“Bridging funding gap is key to restore critical infrastructure, rebuild lives and livelihoods and revive economy.” 

Described as biblical in proportion, September’s floods have caused an incomprehensible amount of destruction, claiming more than 1,700 people lost their lives and displacing at least 8 million people, according to official figures. On top of that, thousands upon thousands of kilometres of roads, bridges, and railways were damaged or completely destroyed. A post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) estimated that the damage caused by floods exceeded $30 billion – one-tenth of Pakistan’s entire GDP. 

Food insecurity – a problem that Pakistan was already facing prior to the disaster – is also on the rise. Research by Save the Children found that 86% of Pakistani families affected by the floods have lost their incomes completely and are unable to afford food. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, food insecurity will now be an issue of even greater concern for the nearly 5.7 million people (3.4 million of which are children) that live in flood-affected areas.

Despite having the world’s fifth-largest population, Pakistan is responsible for just 0.8% of global greenhouse emissions and is also one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change-triggered extreme weather events.

At COP27, the nation was at the forefront of efforts that led to the establishment of a historic loss and damage fund to offer climate compensation to countries particularly vulnerable to climate change and those that are hit by natural disasters. Who would oversee the fund as well as how much money and to whom should be paid will likely be decided at next year’s climate summit, based on recommendations laid out in the COP27 final agreement.

Featured image: European Union/Abdul Majeed) (Flickr)

You might also like: Floods in Pakistan: An Announced Tragedy?