GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations is hosting a conference Monday to help Pakistan deal with the fallout from last summer’s devastating floods that killed more than 1,700 people and displaced some 8 million, a disaster blamed in part on the effects of climate change.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif met in person with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. World leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, attended virtually as countries pitched in to help Pakistan raise an estimated $16.3 billion needed to help rebuild and recover.
The authorities in Pakistan hope that approximately half of this funding requirement will come from the international community.
The conference has shaped itself as a test case of how much the rich world will contribute to help developing countries like Pakistan deal with the impact of climate shocks and prepare for other disasters.
Many scientists, politicians and others say that emissions of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, mostly from industrialized countries, over generations are largely to blame for a warmer global climate.
Thousands of Pakistanis are still living in open spaces in makeshift homes and tents near the stagnant water in southern Sindh and in some areas of southwestern Baluchistan, the two provinces of Pakistan worst hit by floods.
Sharif tweeted on Sunday while en route to Geneva, saying he would “take the opportunity to present the case of flood victims to the world” and highlight steps his government has already taken to provide relief and rehabilitation.
Pakistan has played down initial expectations of big-ticket contributions, downgrading what was initially billed as a pledging conference to a “support” conference – in anticipation that more than just funding will be offered by donors.
Organizers hope the conference will underpin recovery and build resilience after the punishing floods between June and October, which also damaged 2 million houses and washed away 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) of roads. At one point, a third of the country was under water.
Pakistani authorities last week cited a UN-backed assessment that put the total damage at more than $30 billion.
The world body says funding collected so far for Pakistan’s flood victims will run out this month, and an emergency appeal launched in October has collected only about a third of the $816 million requested for food, medicine and other supplies for Pakistanis.
Pakistan plays a negligible role in global warming, emitting less than 1% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but like other developing countries, it has been vulnerable to climate-induced devastation, experts say.