The Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan, in collaboration with the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, organised a two-day conference on ‘Climate Change: Threats, Risks, and Vulnerabilities – Ecologies at the Margins’ at the IBA Main Campus.
The conference, which was organised by students from the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, began with a tree-planting ceremony in the courtyard with the IBA Gardening Team, in which Head of HSF Pakistan, Dr. Steffen Kudella, conference organisers, and volunteers planted amaltas and gulmohar seedlings.
Dr. S Akbar Zaidi, Executive Director of IBA Karachi, was ecstatic about the student-led effort. “This climate change conference, organised by students from the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts (SSLA), School of Economics and Social Sciences, is critical because young people will be disproportionately affected by the climate issue,” he said. A youth-led discourse is essential because it helps prioritise the activities done by young people and others as community, business, and government leaders and citizens. Addressing the effects of climate change and the requirements of a sustainable future is a difficult task that necessitates creative solutions. I am pleased that students took this initiative and are leading this meaningful dialogue on this crucial topic.”
Dr. Kudella opened the conference by highlighting the impact of climate change on food security, water resources, and other non-traditional and transnational security challenges. “The HSF proudly supports the CBER at IBA to promote research-based, inclusive and creative responses to climate change. Climate change is a non-traditional security challenge for Pakistan and the world, and it is especially relevant for megacities like Karachi. In the context of this heavily urbanized coastal city, the threats, risks and vulnerabilities with regard to Climate Change become even more pressing,” he stated.
The first panel, ‘Ecology and the State’, featured panelists Dr. Nausheen Anwar, Professor, City and Regional Planning, Department of SSLA, and Director, Karachi Urban Lab; and Dr. Erum Sattar, Lecturer, Tufts University; and was moderated by Ali Samoo, an IBA student. The session shed light on the colonial administrative legacy and the inadequacy of the urban infrastructure in managing the climate crisis.
The panel on ‘Critical Animal Studies, Animal Rights and Feminism’ featuring Maneesha Deckha, Law Professor at the University of Victoria, questioned the category of animality in the bigger conversation of climate change and the populace’s general insensitivity towards stray animals in discourse and policy making.
Filmmaker, Jawad Sharif addressed the Q&A session after the screening of his documentary film ‘Natari’ which dealt with the very important subject of climate migration and the struggle and resistance of fishermen on the island of Kharo Chan and the sinking Indus Delta.
Day 2 of the conference touched upon ‘The Feminist Movement and Climate Justice’ where panelists identified the feminist interventions in the approach towards climate change. The panelists included, Activist and Writer, Atiya Abbas; Culture Writer and Community Organizer, Aiman Rizwi; and activists and writers Fizza Qureshi and Basil Andrews; it was moderated by Safina Azeem, an IBA student.
The session on ‘Subaltern Animism’ featured Dr. Yamini Narayanan, Senior Lecturer at Deakin University. The conversation emphasized the importance of centering animal studies in discussions on climate change and building collaborative linkages which can address the invisibilization of animals in urban spaces.
The last panel of the conference ‘Entrepreneurship, Fair Trade, and Ethical Practice’ underscored the necessity of environment friendly business practices.