Karachi(Cliff News)Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at jointly promoting conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity in Thar area.Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, CEO SECMC and Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director IUCN Asia and Director, Regional Hub for Asia-Oceania, signed the MoU at a ceremony attended, amongst others, by a delegation of experts from the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), currently in Pakistan as part of a Special Policy Study on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).CCICED is a high-level international organization hosted by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and aims at strategic policies on greening the BRI and linking it with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.The MoU will help implement robust environmental standards and promote nature conservation in the Thar region, through separate and joint initiatives. SECMC is currently working with the vision to develop and execute a technically and commercially viable coal mining project in Thar Block II in Sindh to bring energy security to Pakistan, based on indigenous Lignite resource while taking best possible measures to mitigate negative impacts on people and bio-diversity of Thar.In her capacity as the International Team leader of the Special Policy Study, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraj explained, “The Special Policy Study it is currently undertaking aims to identify the interaction between the green Belt and Road and the implementation of key environmental goals under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in order to lay the ground for decision-making and contribute to promoting green development on the Belt and Road.” She added that the presentation by SECMC was vital, in that “the primary reason for our delegation’s visit is to better understand the ongoing BRI investment projects in Pakistan. SECMC is playing a key role in addressing Pakistan’s energy needs, but it has also invested significantly in improving the socio-economic position of Thari communities. Perhaps even more importantly, it is one of the few companies which has aligned its social investments with the SDGs.”During his presentation, Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, CEO SECMC said: “IUCN and SECMC wish to identify projects and activities for joint implementation from time to time through specific agreements in areas such as biodiversity conservation, environmental education, forestry, and mitigation of negative environmental impacts. We have already commenced a host of programs under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to enhance growth and prosperity of the Thar region and through this partnership we are hopeful that we would be able to learn from the expertise of IUCN to further the impact of our programs.”The CCICED International Chief Senior Advisor & Former Director IISD, Mr. Art Hanson, stressed upon the fact that “Pakistan is the key stakeholder in its One Belt One Road project and getting a better understanding of China’s ongoing Belt and Road initiative (BRI) investment projects in Pakistan through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will ensure that socio-economic sustainability is met with environmental and ecosystem biodiversity”. SECMC Chinese partners under CPEC, built on this further, presenting the SPS objectives of assessing the local demand for sustainable development and achieving a greater understanding of the ongoing BRI investment projects in Pakistan.Mr. Javed Jabbar, former senator and founding member of Baahn Behli, applauded the efforts of SECMC and Thar Foundation; and said that “SECMC has made biodiversity and environmental conservation a priority while prioritizing the energy needs of the country. In a place like Thar, which has most often remained neglected, SECMC has done wonders in that area within a short span of time”.Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan added that in addition to integrated development projects, CPEC also encompasses environment and biodiversity conservation along the route. To match this effort and become a collaborative partner on this front, IUCN is scaling up its work with governments, industry and civil society to ensure that biodiversity conservation and environmental issues are fast tracked into the mainstream initiative.