September 30, 2022

You are cordially invited to




Pakistan Floods: Managing a Climate Crisis through People-Centered Policy Design


Thursday 6th October 2022, 4:00 PM, Room E-002, Elahi Building,

Centre for Public Policy and Governance at Forman Christian College, Lahore

In light of World Habitat Day and the right for human settlements to have a safe and secure environment in which to access their livelihoods, CPPG is organizing a Policy Dialogue on the state of Pakistani habitats, with particular focus on the flood-affected areas. This policy dialogue will focus on evaluating the extent to which Pakistan’s response to climate-induced flooding integrates four principles of Adaptation, Preparedness, Resilience and Rehabilitation. Through this dialogue, we hope to develop a solution-oriented framework that works within the Pakistani context, given the existing bottlenecks and hindrances to good governance in the country. A concept note detailing the context behind this event can be found at the end of this document.

Please see below a tentative schedule for the policy dialogue. The panelists participating at the event represent diversity in stakeholders that should be part of the conversation around flood-management.


Tentative Schedule
Welcome, Introductory Remarks, and Moderator

Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Founding Director & Professor, CPPG

4:00-4:15 PM
Green infrastructure and nature-based solutions for building climate resilience in communities in the Indus Basin

Dr. Fazilda Nabeel, Provincial Coordinator, Living Indus, United Nations


4:15-4:30 PM
Strategizing green solutions for development projects: How can environmental law help?

Mr. Rafay Alam, Founding Partner Saleem, Alam & Co., Environmental Lawyer


4:30-4:45 PM
Civil society organizations and disaster management: How can community-based solutions be scaled up?

Ms. Mehreen Shahid, Development Consultant, Founder and Executive Director, Safe Delivery Safe Mother


4:45-5:00 PM
Overcoming institutional dissonance to develop a shared perspective on climate action

Dr. Omar Masud, CEO, The Urban Unit


5:00-5:15 PM
Questions and Answers/Audience Discussion 5:15-6:00 PM

Panelist Profiles

Mr. Ahmad Rafay Alam 

Rafay Alam is a Pakistani environmental lawyer and activist. He is a founding partner of Saleem, Alam & Co., a firm that specializes in the energy, water, natural resources, and urban infrastructure sectors. As one of Pakistan’s leading environment lawyers, Rafay regularly advises the federal and provincial governments, INGOs and NOGs on issues of policy and strategy in these sectors, and he provides corporate clients strategic sustainability insights. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Lahore Electric Supply Company and the Lahore Waste Management Company; and as founding Vice-President of the Urban Unit he oversaw the growth of the Punjab’s only public sector urban think-tank. Rafay has also served as a Member of the Pakistan Climate Change Council and the Punjab Environment Protection Council and currently serves a Member of the Hisaar Foundation’s Tank on the Rational Use of Water, and as Advisor to Air Quality Asia. He is a passionate advocate for climate action, air quality improvement, and food sovereignty. In September 2019, he and his family helped organize #ClimateStrike marches in over 45 cities throughout Pakistan.

 Dr. Omar Masud

With 15 years of diverse management experience in Pakistan’s civil service, Mohammad Omar Masud is serving as the CEO Urban Unit since June 2020. Before joining the Urban Unit, he completed his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Urban and Regional planning. His thesis focused on the use of mobile information technology in local bureaucracies. Omar also has an MPP degree from Princeton University. Unlike his earlier experience in the civil service, the Urban Unit is a policy and design think tank within the government where a small team of dedicated professionals work with the other stakeholders to support all levels of governments in making and implementing policy including policies regarding burgeoning environmental problems in a rapidly urbanizing country like Pakistan. The Urban Unit is trying to focus on use of technology and spatial data to build local implementation strategies to address urban problems, design practical policy and monitor implementation.

Dr. Fazilda Nabeel

Fazilda Nabeel is Provincial Coordinator Living Indus United Nations. She completed her PhD in Development Studies at the University of Sussex (UK). Her doctoral research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), analyses the nature and underlying causes of problem of groundwater (non) governance in the Indus Basin of Pakistan. Her research takes a historical approach to study the mutually constitutive relation between groundwater and society, with a key focus on the role of the state and technology. Fazilda has served on the Committee for Water Resource Management Law and Justice Commission, Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2018. She was also selected as a Lead Pakistan Fellow on Transboundary Water Resources South Asia (2014) and underwent training at the Water Diplomacy Workshop Harvard Law School (2015). Fazilda has consulted for the STEPS Centre at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) UK, UNDP Pakistan, Punjab Government and Lead Pakistan on a breadth of policy areas including groundwater governance, hydro-diplomacy on the Indus and on the Kabul River Basin.

 Ms. Mehreen Shahid

 Mehreen Shahid is the founder of Safe Delivery Safe Mother (SDSM), an NGO combatting the leading causes of maternal mortality in Pakistan through cost-effective and innovative solutions in challenging environments. She is a development consultant, who advises Pakistan’s public sector on key national priorities, such as poverty alleviation, health, housing and education. She also advises governments and clients in Pakistan and abroad on health systems strengthening, public education and public-private partnerships to enhance social impact. Following the flooding disaster, SDSM has been working tirelessly to bring pregnant women, mothers and children basic health kits, given these group of women are some of the most marginalized and most affected by the climate-induced destruction. Mehreen has worked on a number of exciting projects in the field of public health: at the Clinton Foundation in New York, addressing pressing national health issues such as the opioid crisis in US college communities, and at the World Bank, implementing a routine immunization programme for children in Pakistan by supporting federal and provincial governments. She has also worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, acquiring extensive private and public sector experience in Pakistan and across the Middle East. Mehreen is a recipient of the Annemarie Schimmel Scholarship, which was awarded to her for a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Oxford.

Pakistan Floods: Managing a Climate Crisis through People-Centered Policy Design

World Habitat Day is an international day commemorated on the 4th of October by the United Nations to evaluate progress on world cities and human settlements, the level of inequality cities face and programs that work towards alleviating challenges to urban development. This year World Habitat Day will focus on the role of the three C’s in transforming urban development patterns including conflict, climate and Covid-19.

Pakistan’s urban development is strongly related to its rural development, where migratory trends, the growth and dynamism of its large agriculture sector and quality of public service delivery in rural areas strongly impact the character of Pakistani settlements. More importantly, the ongoing climate crisis, manifested devastatingly in the form of torrential flooding adds another layer of urgency with which Pakistani decision-makers need to plan and achieve their urban development objectives. This year alone, around 1400 people have lost their lives, over a third of Pakistani settlements including in villages and towns have drowned, or been washed away and resultantly more than 33 million people have been affected, being displaced or losing their sources of livelihood.

Alarming statistics indicate how urgent the situation is, but visuals of the devastation caused by the floods leave no question about the severity of the crisis. Pakistan is facing a serious threat to the development potential of its peoples, their ability to live in safe and secure cities and the relationship with which they interact with their natural environment. From migration patterns and urban infrastructure, to food security and the integrity of its agricultural economy, the country’s entire development trajectory is closely related to the ongoing climate change-induced floods. Patterns of industrial growth, infrastructure development and heritage preservation too are closely linked to our ability to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change and its impact on our habitats.

It is not unknown to the development sector that Pakistan is ‘one of the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change’— but the socio-political order fails to raise the right questions and develop a functional mechanism through which Pakistan’s climate response is depoliticized and made people-centric. Reactive decision-making continues to dominate our response to environmental disasters like the recent floods, resulting in a passivity that allows the status quo to remain. Relief efforts, significantly managed and lead by non-governmental entities are amped up as a natural disaster hits, followed by a gradual decline in attention and prioritization towards building climate resilience.

This in turn demands a complete review and overhaul in the manner in which decisions are made in the Pakistani political and administrative domain. Natural disasters such as torrential rains, floods and ensuing humanitarian disasters are aggravated by misgovernance and require a nation-wide, collective rethinking of what it really means to be one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change, to be at the epicenter of a ticking bomb.

Foremost, the decision-making approach must transform from ad hoc reactions and post-event management to an approach that prioritizes the fundamental principles of climate action and disaster management:

  • Adaptation
  • Preparedness
  • Resilience
  • Rehabilitation

The aim of the Policy Dialogue is to have deliberations on practical, actionable responses to making Pakistan’s habitats more climate resilient. It will seek to have meaningful conversations on the following questions:


  • What are the key bottlenecks to Pakistan’s climate-resilient urban development, particularly with respect to managing floods?
  • How can we overcome institutional dissonance to develop a shared perspective on climate action with respect to our rural and urban habitats?
  • How can we make sure environmental and ecosystem sustainability are ensured in the design-process of any development project?
  • What mechanisms can be followed to create greater awareness on flood-resilient habitats and what role do various ministries have in this regard?
  • What are the different ways with which we can enforce better monitoring, evaluation and accountability to build a culture of climate-responsive growth and development in Pakistan?
  • What design features can be included in development projects that prioritize the safety and welfare of the most vulnerable and at risk communities to torrential flooding?
  • Have the Climate Policy and Provincial Climate policies taken into account how urban habitats may be impacted by climate change in Pakistan, particularly with respect to managing floods?

We hope that you can participate and look forward to your ‘RSVP’ email confirmation.

Kind regards,

Saba Shahid

Senior Research Fellow,

Centre for Public Policy and Governance

Forman Christian College (A Chartered University)