GENEVA (AP) – The United Nations is hosting a conference on Monday to help Pakistan deal with the aftermath of last summer’s devastating floods that killed more than 1,700 people and displaced some 8 million people, a disaster that partly attributed to the effects of climate change.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif met personally with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. World leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron took part virtually as countries stepped in to help Pakistan raise an estimated $16.3 billion needed for reconstruction and recovery.
The authorities in Pakistan hope that about half of these funding needs will be met by the international community.
The conference has emerged as a test case of how much the rich world will do to help developing countries like Pakistan deal with the effects of climate change and prepare for other disasters.
Many scientists, policymakers and others say that emissions of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, mainly by developed countries, are largely responsible for global warming over generations.
Thousands of Pakistanis are still living in open areas in makeshift homes and tents near the stagnant waters of southern Sindh and some areas of southwestern Balochistan, the two most flood-hit provinces in Pakistan.
Sharif tweeted Sunday en route to Geneva, saying he would “take the opportunity to bring the case of the flood victims to the world” and highlight the steps his government has already taken to provide relief and rehabilitation.
Pakistan has downplayed initial expectations of high-profile contributions, downgrading what was initially billed as a donor conference to a “support conference” — expecting money not only to be offered from donors.
Organizers hope the conference will underpin a recovery and build resilience after the devastating floods between June and October, which also damaged 2 million homes and washed away 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) of roads. At one point, a third of the country was under water.
Pakistani authorities last week cited a United Nations-backed estimate that the total damage was more than $30 billion.
The world body says funds raised so far for Pakistan’s flood victims will expire this month, and an emergency call launched in October has raised only about a third of the $816 million requested for food, medicine and other relief supplies for Pakistanis.
Pakistan plays a negligible role in global warming, emitting less than 1% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but like other developing countries it is vulnerable to climate-related devastation, experts say.