Body set up on Silk Route Ecologically Responsible Tourism

ISLAMABAD:While under the leadership of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Malik Amin Aslam, is taking a holistic view of mitigating the adverse impacts on climate, the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has set up a Working Group (WG) on ‘Silk Route Ecologically Responsible Tourism and Preservation of Natural Resource Programme’ with the Aga Khan Cultural Service-Pakistan (AKCS-P) as the Secretariat.


The purpose of the WG is to prepare a multipronged strategy and design action plans that preserve and valorise natural resources through mitigation against the adverse impact of climate change, The consequences of mass tourism and uncontrolled infrastructure development.


Aslam chaired the virtual 4th meeting of the WG on 19th of November 2020. Participants included the MoCC, the Secretaries of Forest and Tourism Government of Gilgit Baltistan, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), AFD, ADB and IUCN and Civil Society members such as the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF), and Serendip.


Jurjen van der Tas, Director Partnerships and Development Aga Khan Trust for Culture made a presentation on the multi-year programme for Ghizer district which is home to two parks, numerous rivers and streams is spread over 10,000 square kilometers with an estimated population of 120,000. Ghizer had earlier been chosen in February 2020 as the First Zone of Special Value (ZSV1) with Astore and Shigar the other ZSVs.


Aslam emphasized that it was all important to utilize the coming five months of winter and start the implementation of the programme in the field.


He further emphasized on the need for “responsible tourism” in the region given the recent upsurge in local tourism which has resulted in degradation of the natural environment and wildlife while also adversely impacting the lives of the local communities in the region. The SAPM highlighted the urgent need to manage tourism and have effective measures and mechanisms in place to avoid further damage and preserve the highly sensitive ecosystem of GB while terming it as the “need of the hour”.


Following consensus on the concept plan it was decided to have a select working group which would work on developing an action plan and implementation mechanism by the first week of December and after review by the MoCC would be presented by mid-January to the Working Group chaired by Malik Amin Aslam for approval.


It may be noted that the project intends to address the most pressing environmental and capacity needs of the region which will be achieved by adopting the principle of Responsible Tourism. Furthermore, the approach will assist in taking full account of the region’s current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities alike while serving as a model tourist destination spot.