Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in close cooperation with the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Nepal (IFA), organized a workshop in Kathmandu on October 10, 2012, on “Climate Change as Security Risk in South Asia.”
Dr. Christian Wagner, Head of Asia Division of German think tank, SWP, brought a number of issues such as: inter and intra-state conflicts, unresolved border disputes, non-conventional security threats and problem of governance and linked them to security challenges in the region. He dwelt at length on the implication of climate change on the very existing livelihood of the people, crisis of fresh water, aggravating poverty, inequality, migration, unplanned and overly populated urbanization and resource conflicts due to decline in agriculture production and greater diversion of resources from one sector, for example education and health due to climatic changes.
Old challenges are mixing up with the new ones making resolution of the problems complex. There are disincentives for investment and willingness to innovate. He added that South Asia has a weak tradition of planning.
“Coping the effects of climate change requires new institutions, ideas, policies, resources, right mix of priorities”, the German climate change expert said.
Dr. Wagner also argued that there are tremendous potential for good multi-level governance through the mechanisms of SAARC, UN and other bilateral measures for cooperation on mitigation and adaptation measures on climate change. It also required strengthening bilateral and sub-regional measures, he continued.
(To recall, a day earlier, October 9, 2012, Dr. Wagner spoke on the same theme in Pokhara and satisfied the queries raised by various inquisitive participants).
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Keshav Man Shakya highlighting the effects of climate change offered a number of solution such as “security planning at the regional level, strengthening of regional cooperation of and coordination especially through SAARC, offering institutional, technological, skill and resource incentives to people at the local level and uniting the efforts of international community in order to face the challenges brought about the climate change phenomenon.”
Welcoming the participants, Head of FES Nepal office Dev Raj Dahal, said “Neither linear path does support the goal of nature-sustainability nor sciences and social sciences reduced to reductionist prism. It required, said Dahal, holistic approach and cognitive and attitude change of human beings that restore human connection to the entire eco-system. A shift from the over consumption of fossil fuels (coal, old and gas) to alternative source of energy (solar, water, wind and biomass), processing of waste into energy and regeneration of nature is necessary to strike its balance in “golden mean”, said the FES Chief.
Sustainable development requires ecological enlightenment, green growth and coordination of development policies at multi-level governance. Green growth aims to reduce ecological risks and scarcities. South Asian leaders have to upgrade the institutional, policy and resource capacity to address climate change by marking a transition to a low-carbon economy and to scale up interregional cooperation in hydropower, river management, flood data monitoring, etc and, as a human duty, strive to do no harm to nature, he suggested.
“Our common humanity offers us a common cause for protecting the nature”, Dahal reminded. Executive Director of IFA Dr. Rishi Adhikari speaking at the concluding session referred to the direct effects of climate change to Maldives due rise of sea level and risk of lake bursts in Nepal due to global warming and the fast melting of Himalayas.
Over 85 policy makers, planners, civil servants, secretaries, media men, diplomats, academics, and climate experts attended the FES/IFA meeting.