World Economic Forum 2022 and Pakistan’s Challenges
By: Basit Ali
This year’s theme of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland, in May 2022 was “History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies.” Leaders worldwide were together to address the issues that shook the world, just like the Great Depression in 1930. Still, the situation was different this time, such as COVID-19, Energy and Food Security, and Climate Change issues. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister and the State Minister were part of this session to address the key issues and put Pakistan’s narrative.
Despite the political uncertainty in the country, it was very important to address these four key areas at the global level. COVID-19 Pandemic affected the whole economic system around the world. Pakistan was one of the countries which suffered the most, and the impact was so large that it caused a negative growth rate of 0.5 percent. For this purpose, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was formed to take immediate measures where all the development budgets were diverted to control this deadly virus. Later, informed decision-making was made, such as stepwise relaxation and opening markets, where the threshold was likely to be low.
The quest for energy security is one of the key challenges faced by Pakistan since its independence. Several energy policies were formed in the past to tackle this crisis, but the inconsistency between them did not work out well. Energy security is further emphasized because of the Russia-Ukraine war. In addition to external factors, the domestic legislative process is also responsible for this problem, making countries vulnerable to unstable external conditions. One of the reasons why Pakistan is at a losing end in the race toward renewable energy is that it has been facing policy inconsistency on both government and public sides. Currently, around 32 percent of total energy demand across all sectors comes from imports, while another 34.6% comes from natural gas power generation. Pakistan generates only 2.4% renewable energy, of which coal accounts for 41%, which amounts to 54% overall (47%). This gap between requirement and supply can be narrowed but can only be closed in one way: by ensuring priority for clean energy sources like solar, biogas, and wind power. The country needs a comprehensive energy policy developed by the government and key stakeholders such as the energy regulator, regulatory institutions, international financial institutions, and influential stakeholders. Deploying an alternative energy policy through renewable energy sources will benefit future generations and society.
Food security is an issue of great concern among the growing population and an increasing number of people. The government must consider this an important agenda to maximize food production and reduce hunger for their citizens. A great deal of attention can be given to this issue because it impacts many aspects, not just nutrition but also the economy. The lack of quality food resources to feed our people causes food insecurity problems in Pakistan.
Climate change refers more to a gradual and natural shift in climate patterns, but due to human actions, it has become a serious issue. Pakistan has suffered from extreme weather conditions, drought, and high temperatures in the last hundred years. These changes have affected our socioeconomic systems, such as agriculture and food security. If we ignore these effects, our country will face high economic costs due to damages caused by climate change.
In the present global economic scenario and the context of food production and food security, Pakistan must develop its food processing industry. Food processing is a complex sector that involves technology and modern manufacturing techniques. It contributes directly or indirectly to developing various Pakistan-related industries, including mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, metallurgy, etc. The increasing demand for agricultural produce in Pakistan, coupled with the underdevelopment of the farming sector, has created a huge demand for industrial utilization of agricultural products by converting them into value-added products through modern processing facilities at the global level.