The melting of Pakistan’s over 7000 glaciers has been the latest catastrophe of global warming. As the Sindh region of Pakistan reached a scorching 50°C (122°F) this summer, the effects of climate change became all too apparent. Combined with the country facing unprecedented levels of monsoon rain, 33 million people have been displaced and 1,343 have died due to the mass flooding which has submerged the country.
Producing only 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the devastation to agriculture, livestock and the displacement of millions is what remains concerning. With an estimated $30bn economic loss, the stagnating water in the country has created a lake - posing not only a serious physical threat, but enabling an increase in levels of malaria across the country, which show no sign of relenting anytime soon.
While this isn’t the first time mass flooding has occurred - with a previous instance in 2010 - the response from the region is that this isn’t an issue which is exclusive to Pakistan, it will soon be on all of our doorsteps. With one-third of the country submerged and facing a crisis, Masood Hashmi, president & CEO at Orientm McCann and Afzal Hussain, general manager at M&C Saatchi Pakistan, shared messages with LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about how they hope the global ad industry will show up.
President & CEO at Orientm McCann
Climate change is a global crisis, and Pakistan is at the forefront of suffering. We have over 7000 glaciers - the largest number outside the arctic region - melting at an alarmingly fast rate, all while Pakistan contributes less than 1% to global carbon emissions. This means Pakistan is among the top 10 countries impacted by global warming.
The floods have greatly affected Pakistan. One-third of the country is under water, and over 33 million people are affected. Our country was already facing economic challenges over the last couple of years due to high inflation, current account deficit, covid-19 and high currency devaluation. The help needed is not just immediate short-term relief, but long-term sustainable rehabilitation also.
Many international and local NGOs have stepped up along with governmental organisations for providing the help needed with maximum outreach. However, accessibility and other challenges are common in these unprecedented times. As local representatives of McCann, we are doing our best to provide support to not just our team, but also those around us. Our team members have also reached out on the ground to communities affected directly by the flooding and collected donations in all forms to help mitigate the severity of the disaster. It goes without saying we are proud of the culture we have here at Orientm McCann.
An important message to be put out repeatedly is that the effect of the flood will stay with those affected for a long time. Help will be required consistently. At the same time, all of us as global citizens - corporations, governments, individuals etc - must look at the consequences of our actions and decisions. We must think about the condition we wish to leave the Earth in for the next generations. And, at a national level, Pakistan is also facing a debt crisis. As such, it will be really helpful if our debts are rescheduled or partly waived off, so that we can spend on the betterment of our people in these tough times. The situation is critical as people are dying of infections and starvation. We are a poor country, and now we are hungry as well. Around 60 per cent of our GDP is spent on debt servicing. I would urge the international community to help us in this time of need.
General manager at M&C Saatchi Pakistan
What’s happening in Pakistan is a wake-up call for the world. The unprecedented rains and glacial melt have submerged a third of the country. 33 million people have been suddenly put at risk, and well over 1,300 have lost their lives with women and children suffering the most.
The UN Secretary General bluntly stated that he has no memory of anything similar that has happened with the impact of climate change in Pakistan after his recent visit. It’s so unfair for Pakistan to suffer the worst effects of climate change when it contributes less than 1% to global greenhouse emissions. It’s even more unfair for the poorest of the poor who live near the river banks to suffer the most for no fault of their own.
Our agency staff are safe as the cities of Islamabad and Lahore are well equipped to deal with the unusually heavy rains. But we feel gutted as the human suffering of our fellow Pakistanis dwarfs the efforts being made by us, the government and international communities who are trying to help.
My message to the international advertising community is that it’s time to jolt the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases into action. The world is very connected and the rich nations need to be held accountable for the suffering of poor people in other countries who pay the real price for their inaction. Climate change will spare no one in the end, but the vulnerable will be the first to suffer.