Sustainable Development have three basic factors i.e. Society, Economy and the Environment. These factors further depend on
i) population and its Growth, poverty level, education and its application to science and technology development, management skills, social habits including honesty magnitude of corruption in the society.
ii) In the economical sector the important factors are production capability, technological skills, communication infrastructure, power generation capability and national resources their utilization.
iii) The environment sector is globally important and it requires each nation to employ techniques in their development and production creating minimum pollution and to develop green environment.
Dr. Beg’s presentation dealt with these factors for Sustainable Development from Pakistan’s perspective.
SOCIETY: Population sector: Pakistan is a large country with a population of 185 million people with a population growth rate of about around 2% as compared to 0.14% for Europe. It has a labor force of 60 million with an unemployment ratio of 12%. 60.3 % people have earning below $2 and 30% earn less than $1 per day and are below poverty level. The population growth rate is double amongst the uneducated people as compared to the educated people. The per capita income in Pakistan is marginally up by 0.2 per cent to $1,256.8 in 2011-12, and the GDP is $240 billion (nominal) and per capita electricity consumption of 380Kwhr. The population growth has to be reduced by increasing education and health sector share in the GDP.
Education: Pakistan produces 4, 45,000 graduates per year and 6.35% people are graduates. Pakistan has about 150 universities and Degree Awarding Institutions. Pakistan aimed at 7% growth in education by 2015, the present rate being around 2%. With 11million graduates and a big labor force Pakistan has big potential in industry, agriculture, skilled, unskilled workers and in services sector, both in the country and abroad. The education sector has to excel in basic sciences’ but it is suggested that Applied Science and Engineering Departments be established at all universities to increase the indigenous effort in technological development.
Corruption: In spite of many good indices the progress has slowed down mainly due to a high corruption level, mismanagement and terrorism. Mismanagement has resulted in gross damage to our infra structure especially in Railways, PIA and Oil and gas sectors. As an example Dr. Beg described in detail the case of railways. The big sectors are extremely important in sustainable development and have to be revived through very thoughtful and honest efforts and policies made through think tanks including all stake holders and the universities.
ENVIRONMENT: Pakistan has only 3% area covered with forests compared to 18% on the average in Asia. The hazardous affluence from the factories is not controlled as per rules due to the corrupt practices. The electricity generation through coal is only 0.15% of the total energy. Pakistan contributes to only 0.4% of world pollution. Pakistan produces 26 million tons of pollution compared to 6000 million tons each by China and USA. While Pakistan should control pollution from vehicles and factories and save forests, there is a big potential for using our coal for urgent power generation.
ENERGY SECTOR: Pakistan cannot achieve its full potential without generating more electricity through all the means available. Dr. Beg showed the charts from the World Bank Energy Reports elaborating that the Nuclear, Hydal, Coal and Gas Combined Cycle are the cheapest means of producing electricity at rates ranging from 3 to 10 cents per Kw hr. The rate also depends on the indigenous component of materials and technology. Other techniques using wind energy and PV techniques are presently 3 to 4 times costlier. Dr. Beg showed a list of Hydal Energy projects which are waiting for funds. Similarly we have 175 billion tons of lignite coal in Thar area, where foreign investment is awaited. Investors are shy due to the circular debt in the energy sector and the high level of corruption. The investment on Neelum–Jehlum has also been pended by aid giving agencies.
In the short term, it was suggested that coal and hydal projects should be completed / taken up to sustain our development. The universities must undertake research in Solar, Wind and other renewable energy sources intensively, to make these sources economically competitive, as also stressed by Dr. Kamal in his lectures on the subject. This will provide a long term solution.
There is a potential of converting steam powered electrical plants on coal. These plants have combined capacity of 5300 MW and a derated capacity of 4600 MW. New boilers will have to be designed for these plants. Pakistan wants these plants to be converted to Thar coal, whereas the loan providing agencies like ADB are ready only if good quality imported coal is used.
University research is also required for utilization of Thar coal for such national projects .We will import $17 billion worth of oil next year. This also provides incentive for research to utilize indigenous resources.
I have touched upon the three factors the Society, basic Economy and Environment, the factors important for sustainable development through Science and Technology, from our national point of view.
Energy is basic for removal of poverty. Short term solutions and other green solutions are available. University research and development is needed on PV and other renewable energies to make those competitive.
To build indigenous skills, more applied science and technology departments are needed to be established at our universities in fields relevant to the country. There was a time when our universities produced graduates who had the technological skills to make our Railways, Telephone Industry, Irrigation Systems, Oil and Gas Survey and Exploration etc. to function according to the needs of the hour. Now we have drifted towards handing over all these functions to others. We also seek foreign technological companies to explore and extract our mineral and fishing resources. This increasing lack of competitive technological competence is a grossly damaging our sustainability.
Pakistan ADP has shrunk drastically from Rs 500 bn. Private investment local and foreign has also shrunk. We can have short term sustainable development using existing resources and logistics, however long term sustainable development can only be achieved through R&D in Science and Technological potential development through universities. The university which has vision to achieve this first, will become the top institution of the country.
People of Pakistan have proved in many fields that if determined they can achieve targeted goals.
Dr. Mirza Mansoor Beg
COMSATS Incubation Center, CIIT Islamabad