By Shumaila Andleeb

ISLAMABAD – Seven Islamabad-based diplomatic missions on Wednesday launched ’DiploGreen’ – an initiative to raise environmental awareness and maintain the community neighborhood clean and green.

The missions of Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States of America carried out a two-hour-long cleanup and recycling drive across the Diplomatic Enclave, joined by envoys and other representatives of diplomatic community.

Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour led the DiploGreen drive from 9 am to 11 am, where volunteers collected litter from the roadsides of Diplomatic Enclave and pledged adoption of other environment-friendly measures including banning single-use plastics, starting recycling programme and reducing energy or water usage.

The cleanup drive was followed by a gathering at the Canadian High Commission where chief guest on the occasion Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Malik Amin Aslam highlighted the government’s steps for clean and green environment.

Malik Amin mentioned that Pakistan used an alarming quantity of 55 billion plastic bags annually and said ban on plastic bags would be replicated to provinces after its successful launch in Islamabad.

He said an electric-vehicle policy was in the offing with an aim to shift 30 percent of transportation on cleaner energy by 2030.

He said the Clean Green Index programme would be launched in September, which would encourage competition among 20 main cities on maintaining the level of cleanliness. Some quantifiable solid indicators relating to solid and liquid waste, sanitation and clean toilets have been collected in this regard, he added.

Malik Amin said around 20-30 Green Kiosks would be set up in the capital, offering facility of free-of-charge retail outlet for household women to sell their handmade fabric bags.

He said under Ecosystem Restoration System, the government was targeting plantation of 10 billion trees as a contribution to the world’s requirement of one trillion trees to counter climate change.

The Adviser appreciated the embassies for launching DiploGreen initiative, terming it a significant step in creating a healthier environment.

High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour said the diplomatic community had joined hands to support the government of Pakistan on its plastic ban and to raise awareness about the environmental issues, which were a matter of concern for all regardless of geographical and political boundaries.

She said each of the seven missions under DiploGreen was committed to taking steps for being more energy efficient and mentioned that Embassy of France had already banned single-use plastic utensils in the events, while Embassy of Germany had started waste segregation.

Wendy Gilmour has also launched the Environmental Stewardship Committee at the High Commission, which will advise ‘green practices’ for the staff including recycling programme, waste reduction to ensure environmental sustainability.

Mayor of Islamabad Sheikh Ansar Aziz and ambassadors of Japan, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Morocco also attended the event.