Managing Risks to Geo-engineer Climate Resilience

Asma Jan Muhammad | May 22, 2022
Pakistan has entered the age of adaptation to Climate Change. However, age, like opportunity waits for nobody and neither will the next Climate Change event. Managing climate change related risks are therefore critical for the poorest and most venerable people in society, children and the voiceless.

 If we look at Climate Change through the kaleidoscope of Risk Management this will enable stakeholders to assess both risks & opportunities to identify effective engineering control measures that actually work for society, as a whole, that build back resilience using both grey and green infrastructure.

Pakistan can apply Risk Management principles that enable desirable, objective outcomes to be achieved, provided proposed control measures are identified by competent persons who understand their subject matter and work in synergy with end users, to integrate and optimize solutions that mitigate or reduce climate change related risks.

In Pakistan, risks are often not assigned to a person, or party that is (are) best to accept it and so, risks are not managed effectively.
For example, Architects are not qualified or competent to design the foundations or structure of a building - a pertinent point the Engineering profession needs to address. This systemic failure is just one of the many root causes, for the lack of societal improvement that needs to be voiced and overcome, now. The resistance in society from the status quo, can be changed when risk management principles are adopted.

Control measures that apply the principles of civil, geological, environmental, geotechnical and agricultural engineering to identify sustainable solutions, must also ensure resilience, function and form of the controls used, so that risks are both managed effectively and additional hazards are not inadvertently introduced into society.

Water Management Is a core issue identified in the Living Indus program that needs to be tackled head on. Two examples of control measures that integrate grey infrastructure with green nature based solutions include:
Engineering use of groundwater reservoirs i.e., reservoir aquifers that lies at both shallow and deep unconsolidated alluvial deposited layers of material beneath and across the Indus River Basin has a massive (400 MAF) potential groundwater storage capacity. The storage of rain and flood water in reservoir aquifers can be sustainably pumped back up and then used for irrigation, domestic water supply and industrial purposes. Design Engineers have the competency to design such schemes, to ensure they function safely and do not contaminate the natural aquifers, from the engineered wells, through proper design of well heads and seals.

Surface Spreading, Surface Recharge, Recharge Aquifers; by applying greener designs to surfaces water management schemes; using ditches, trenches, permeable pavements connected to soak-wells, or concrete shafts that channel water into reservoir aquifers, would enable rain and flood water to be captured, directed and used to artificially recharge natural water storage systems.
Urban and Rural Planners, Architects and Engineers have the skills to integrate designs, or redesign and retrofit, public open spaces and existing grey infrastructure where these reservoir aquifers exist. For example; by building garden parks with tiered levels, a central lower level area with a permeable pavement and wells to soak water to shallow aquifers in the event of heavy rains and flood events, would enable duality in design and function.

Storm water control measures can also be blended from grey to green infrastructure, as described below:
A risk based approach, towards geo-engineered climate action, if adopted by all stakeholders and interest groups, would improve the certainty to deliver successful grey and green infrastructure that meets international standards of quality to achieve climate resilience.
There appears to be a gap in the perceived level of urgency towards the proactive adaptation to climate change by government, regulators, planners, scientists and public interest groups. The diaspora across UAE and other countries can certainly help bridge this gap, support the change in mind set and propose solutions that better serve society. Active participation in the Living Indus program is thus of paramount importance.
Be the force of change you want to see.

For further information:
Living Indus – Investing in Ecological Restoration

About the author of blog:
Ahad Anwar ,Climate Change Columnist 
Mr. A Anwar is a Civil Engineer, Graduate and Postgraduate from Imperial College London, UK, a Fellow of the Geological Society, UK, with over 25 years of experience in Civil, Environmental & Geotechnical Engineering and Risk & QHSE Management, related to the Construction Industry, from UK, UAE and KSA.

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