As climate change is affecting the economic growth of the South Asian countries, experts, policymakers and development partners are sitting together to find out ways to improve the situation.
South Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change, which can result in higher average temperatures, changes in rainfall and more extreme weather events like major storms.
These changes are going to have a range of knock-on effects in the region, including glacial melting in the Himalayas, which currently feed water to a billion people, a decrease in crop yields by up to 30% by 2050 and increased storms and flooding that can increase incidence of diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever. It is estimated that GDP growth rates in the region will decrease by 3-5% by 2050 as a result of cumulative impacts of climate change. The question is then, how well will South Asia be able to cope with the climate change impacts it faces?
Inaugurated by Dr. Ram Prasad Lamsal, joint secretary of Ministry of Population and Environment and focal point of UNFCCC Nepal, the 2-day Regional Dialogue on Financing Climate Resilient Growth in South Asia heard experts discussing various related issues.
The head of the DFID office in Nepal, Gail Marzetti, said “It is good to see the leadership of the Government of Nepal in agreeing to host this regional dialogue in Nepal – where we are already seeing climate impacts. For example, over 150,000 people in the Karnali region of Nepal were affected by a drought this year. For the first time Governments of Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan are meeting to discuss Climate Change issues and how finance approaches can reduce the impacts of climate change.”
Considering vulnerabilities, representatives from the four countries were to discuss how well South Asia is able to reduce climate vulnerability, build capacity to adapt to, and enhance resilience to climate change impacts.
“We share common concerns and have a common interest to prepare for climate change impacts. Climate change will cumulatively affect economic growth in South Asia; therefore, we need to prepare our poor and climate vulnerable populations to build their adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability,” said Naresh Sharma, Chief, Climate Finance Management Section, Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal.
Delegates from Afghanistan, India, attended a two-day dialogue in Kathmandu and discussed ways of planning for the future impacts of climate change in the South Asian region.
This is the first time governments of the four countries are meeting after the Paris Agreement to share experiences with budgeting and financing approaches to support climate-resilient economic growth.
Syed Rizwan Mehboob, the Pakistan Prime Minister's adviser on climate change looked forward “to sharing Pakistan’s experience of raising finance from international climate funds, and learning from the experience of those here”. He added, “Pakistan Government has already allocated Rs 2 Billion for launching the Green Pakistan Program from its own sources and is now actively pursuing the Green Climate Fund and other CSR resources to augment this program for a resilient Pakistan."
The discussion ranged from financing climate change in South Asia, mobilizing private finance to planning and budgeting at the sub-national level. The dialogue also launched Climate Change Financing Frameworks report which reviews work related to CC Financing Frameworks (CCFFs) in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan and six Indian States.
Other eminent dignitaries at the dialogue who shared insights include Kenichi Yokoyama (Country Director Nepal, Asian Development Bank), Youssef Nassef (Coordinator, Adaptation Program, and UNFCCC Secretariat) and Dr. B. G. Mukhopadhyay (Chief General Manager, National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development, India).
Organized by the Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal, the UK Department for International Development and Action on Climate Today (ACT), the Dialogue brought together senior representatives from ministries of finance, planning, environment and climate change, as well as local government bodies from Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Key development partners from civil society and UN agencies such as the United Nations Development Program are contributing to discussions.
ACT, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) is a regional program working with governments to plan and budget for future climate change impacts that threaten to slow the growth of national economies.
Achyut Luitel, Regional Director, Practical Action Nepal said that this kind of program will help to share the knowledge on climate financing.
Chaired by Dr. Lamsal, the event saw Asian Development Bank Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama presenting his views on opportunities and challenges for climate finance in South Asia. Batu Krishna Uprety, NAP Team Leader, Nepal also highlighted the scenario of Nepal.