Climate change is happening and is now a proven fact. Its impacts are getting more pronounced in the form of drying water resources, erratic rainfall and increment in the number of disasters. It has adverse effects on almost every sector globally but the question is who suffers the most? Is it the people of the developed countries or the poor in the developing countries, with subsistence economy, social vulnerability and highly marginal land to rely on?
Everybody knows the answer: that is, the poor suffer the most. Therefore, emphasis is given more on the poor developing countries and their people affected by climate change.
Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) uses the existing biodiversity and ecosystem service in an appropriate way as a part of an overall adaptation strategy. EBA is one of the most acknowledged adaptations, which stands alone as an approach to address and implement the strategies beneficial against the impacts of climate change. EBA is an effective approach which not only benefits a particular section of climate change in the community but it also has the potential to benefit social, ecological and cultural purposes in addition to climate change adaptation.
The main strategies of EBA is to manage the natural resources, restore the lost/decayed ecosystem and ecosystem functions in a sustainable manner and improving the livelihoods and human well-being by assimilating wider determinations. The most important aspect of this EBA is its efficiency, which minimizes the chances of mal-adaptation.
Also, it can be used to counterpart engineering or other high-tech methodologies for adaptation by increasing their flexibility and efficiency. EBA has been gaining a lot of attention lately as its potential to lessen the range of climate change impacts on the local community and its people and also to provide substantial co-benefits for the people and ecosystem, especially to those areas, which are more vulnerable to climate change is incredible.
Nepal, a mountainous developing country, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Almost three quarters of Nepal’s population are dependent on agriculture. The change in the weather pattern has caused the Nepalese to suffer from excessive amount of rain or sometimes no rain at all resulting in drought and no crops. Crop loss, flood, drought, landslides, forest fires, etc. are some calamities that have been quite frequent for the past few years.
The unpredictable rainfall pattern has caused negative water quality and quantity, which has hampered the food security of the local communities, who completely depend on agriculture for their food and economy.
In order to take an immediate action against the above mentioned issues, National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and other national strategies, along with Ecosystem-based Adaptation project in line, have aimed to protect the country from the impacts of climate change and strengthen the resilience of ecosystem and protect the local communities. A complete halt to the impacts of climate change might take a long time but with this initiative and adaptation, the improvement on some sections can be seen in just a few years.
Suitable implementation of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Programme (SCWMP) and Community Forest Programme (CFP) can result in a better access to food supplies, income and natural resources for the local communities. Particular emphasis is given on the mountainous ecosystem as the lives there are more vulnerable to climate change.
EBA provides better knowledge and measures as to how the adaptive capacity of local community regarding climate-resilience can be increased, such as in the safeguard of watersheds, providing a buffer in contradiction of life-threatening weather events, etc. which is advantageous for various sectors in Nepal.
The Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) of Nepal is one of the executing partners of the project Ecosystem-based Adaptation through South-South Cooperation (EbA South). Officially known under the title “Enhancing Capacity, Knowledge and Technology Support to Build Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Developing Countries”, EbA South strives for a better environment and knowledge on the climate resilience in developing countries by mobilizing knowledge, strengthening institutional capacity and transferring proper adaptation technologies. EbA South helps the vulnerable communities of Africa and Asia-Pacific to implement and adapt the measures required to manage and control climate change and its consequences. This project isfunded through the Special Climate Change Fund. Officially known under the title "Enhancing Capacity, Knowledge and Technology Support to Build Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Developing Countries", the project is implemented by UN Environment and executed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China, through the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The main co-financing is provided by China’s South- South Climate Cooperation Fund.
The EbA South project particularly aims at firming the climate resilience of ecosystem and at decreasing the vulnerability of local communities in three pilot countries: Nepal, Seychelles and Mauritania, representing Mountain, Coastal and Dry ecosystems respectively. In Nepal, plantation of indigenous tree species in the suitable site at the outset of the project will result in soil protection as the canopy cover will increase, and nitrogen fixation in soils will boost agricultural productivity and the production of fodder and fruits.
EBA aims to reinforce the capacity of developing countries that are susceptible to climate change impacts with the help of ecosystem based adaptation approaches. For example, EBA is working on Vietnam as it is one of the countries most extremely affected by the adverse effect of climate change. As Vietnam is the biodiversity hotspot, rich in flora and fauna, EBA aims to manage, preserve and protect the land covering areas to create an average to long-term influence to meeting the country’s carbon assurances.
Hence, EBA can have a very positive impact in Nepal’s context, as its effectiveness is the key to adaptation strategies. The support that the strategy provides to the social, cultural, economic and ecological goals in regards to the climate change adaptation is remarkable. As Nepal has been facing various natural calamities, currently resulting in enormous life and economy loss, EBA can help us deliver improved stewardship of land and water resources, protection of wildlife habitat, carbon confiscation to mitigate climate change and hundreds of opportunities for livelihood diversification. Nepal can take various benefits from this climate change adaptation strategy if the stakeholders work hard enough and continue to be a part of the projects initiated by EbA South.
(Deep Prakash Ayadi is Nepal Education Specialist, EbA South, Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal)