GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations is hosting a conference on Monday to help Pakistan cope with the fallout of last summer’s devastating flooding that killed more than 1,700 people and displaced about 8 million, a disaster blamed in part on the impact of climate change.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was joining UN Secretary-General António Guterres in person. World leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, were taking part virtually as countries chip in to help Pakistan pull together an estimated $16.3 billion that’s needed to help rebuild and recover.
Authorities in Pakistan hope about half of that funding need will come from the international community.
The conference has shaped up as a test case of just how much the rich world will pitch in to help developing-world nations like Pakistan manage the impact of climatic swoons, and brace for other disasters.
Many scientists, policymakers and others say emissions of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, mostly by industrialized countries, over generations are largely to blame for a warming global climate.
Thousands of Pakistanis are still living in open areas in makeshift homes and tents near the stagnant water in Southern Sindh and in some areas in southwestern Baluchistan, the two worst-flood hit provinces in Pakistan.
Sharif tweeted on Sunday while en route to Geneva, saying he would “take the opportunity to present the case of flood victims before 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, and has downgraded what was originally billed as a pledging conference to a “support” conference — in anticipation that not just funding will be offered up by donors.
Organizers hope the conference will underpin a 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 submerged.
Pakistani authorities last week cited a UN-backed assessment that the total damage amounted to more than $30 billion.
The world body says funding raised so far for Pakistan’s flood victims will run out this month, and an emergency appeal launched in October has garnered only about a third of the $816 million sought for food, medicines and other supplies for Pakistanis.
Pakistan plays a negligible role in global warming and emits less than 1% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but like other developing countries, it has been vulnerable to climate-induced devastation, experts say.