Pakistan has announced a plan that will create up to 5,000 green jobs for youths amid the coronavirus pandemic – while better preserving the country’s national parks.
The first step of the Protected Areas Initiative will focus on giving communities a bigger role – including working as park guards and custodians – in protecting 15 of its roughly 30 national parks, most of which have long had little to no management.
“The dual objective is to protect nature while also generating jobs for unemployed youth,” says Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “All this green activity will aid in addressing the unexpected spike in COVID-linked unemployment across the country.”
The initiative will be overseen by the country’s new National Parks Service, modeled after the U.S. agency and due to launch in September. The first phase of the project will span for three years, according to Aslam, with a planned $24 million in spending. The climate change advisor is also estimating a 13-15% increase in protected land area by 2023 to result from the project.