Climate Change

How cleantech can help power Pakistan's green revolution

A boy looks out over the leafy Pakistani capital from a hillside viewing point in Islamabad March 4, 2007

Can he see a greener future for Pakistan? Image: REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Ayla Majid
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Planetive
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Change?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Climate Change is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Climate Change

Pakistan has been the 8th-most affected country when it comes to climate change. Although the government recognizes that vulnerability, there is a lot of room for forming an effective adaptation plan.

Pakistan has set aside 7.6 billion rupees ($47 million) for addressing climate change in its 2019-2020 budget. This will be spent on new initiatives and ongoing schemes including climate-resilient urban settlements, the establishment of a Geomatic Centre for Climate Change and of a Pakistan Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Strategic Planning and Coordination Cell, as well as sustainable land management projects to combat desertification. Pakistan planted a billion trees in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, and there is a commitment to plant 10 billion trees over the next five-to-eight years.

But governments cannot achieve climate change targets by themselves. Increasing public-private partnerships are required. Global trends in innovation have led to the advent of ‘cleantech’ - technological innovations with sustainable aims, such as reducing our carbon footprint, meeting the demands for clean energy, cleaner air and water, producing healthy food for our ever-growing population, and the optimal utilization of finite resources.

Over the past 20 years, Pakistan has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the effects of climate change
Over the past 20 years, Pakistan has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the effects of climate change Image: Germanwatch

Fossil fuel-based energy generation is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In Pakistan, the sector is now marred by a pile-up of huge circular debt, thanks to poor quality transmission and distribution, as well as revenue losses in the form of unpaid bills. And there has been a lack of attention to achieving an appropriate and sustainable energy mix - and so today there is a great need for a new policy direction. Microgrids, microturbines, wind turbines and solar photovoltaics are redefining energy generation and distribution with more and more start-ups trying to capture the inefficiencies in the current distribution models. Technology and the low cost of acquisition now make it possible to set up distributed generation systems for unserved or underserved populations much faster, with onsite renewables, onsite storage and distribution.

Cleantech is not limited to clean energy, however. It extends to agriculture and food production through processes such as precision farming, smart irrigation, quality monitoring, logistics and plant sciences for the creation of sustainable protein sources. Our agriculture sector is vulnerable to heat stress, changes in productivity, and changes in water availability. Increasing droughts and floods will impact food production; coupled with our ever-growing population, this will increase the risk of food security and hunger.

Moreover, cleantech innovations are playing a critical role by recycling plastics, municipal solid waste or industrial waste, including e-waste, and in spreading awareness around the consumption of plastics. Cleantech has also impacted the transportation and logistics industry with the invention of autonomous and connected vehicles, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, logistics services, new mobility business models, and sharing infrastructure.

Have you read?

Challenges for the cleantech sector range from regulatory frameworks to the inefficiencies of conventional systems and a lack of investor confidence. Globally, cleantech firms received $332.1 billion in investment in 2018 due to increased efforts by governments to align their regulatory frameworks with sustainable development; however, this has not been the case in Pakistan, where we are still spending heavily on fossil fuel-based energy. There is a huge need to alter our system, which subsidises fossil fuels. This issue needs to be dealt with at the legal and regulatory levels in order to remove subsides and to make renewable energy competitive. Innovative finance, technology development and switching from conventional energy systems will require investors to be on board with the government.

The government should provide basic funding for research by providing grants to universities and other researchers, and offering tax credits on private sector research. In Pakistan, which has many energy projects in the pipeline through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the government should include renewables in its integrated energy planning, in order to attract investment at scale in cleantech, and should include cleantech targets in primary legislation, provide green financing options and most importantly phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Its focus must now be on greening projects across all sectors throughout the country.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ChangeSustainable Development
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Green job vacancies are on the rise – but workers with green skills are in short supply

Andrea Willige

February 29, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum