SAARC needs to capitalize on opportunities for Regional Cooperation on Climate Change
Publised on Climate Change and Nepal, NYCA blog
Impacts of climate change such as floods, cyclone, drought, glacial melt, and sea level rise are already being felt in South Asia, and these will continue to intensify. For more than 1.5 billion people in South Asia, particularly the poor, climate change is clearly not just an environmental issue but one that is closely interlinked with their livelihood and socioeconomic development.
Besides being extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, South Asia is also in a position to lead the world towards effective action against climate change. COP 15 in Copenhagen exposed the world to new geo-political realities with the rise of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India & China) group as a key player in the global climate negotiations. As a member of the BASIC group, India is in a position to significantly influence climate negotiations and raise the concerns of the region as a whole. Similarly, countries like Maldives and Bangladesh have also played important roles in shaping global opinion on climate change
They have also demonstrated how small countries can make big impacts. Maldives has announced that it will become carbon neutral within ten years and Bangladesh has invested significant resources in adaptation. Nepal is a chair of LDC group in the United Nations and can led Climate Change agenda as well. Other South Asian nations have also initiated measures to address climate change. If SAARC can harness all these efforts to present a collective position and take advantage of the strengths of each of its members, it can definitely be a major player and a global leader in the context of climate change.
Climate change is also an issue that can bring together all South Asians. We are all on the same boat when it comes to climate change and we need to support each other and paddle hard together to take our boat upstream. Sharing experiences and learning good practices from each other will not only help adapt to the climate impacts but also build on South-South cooperation. Building and executing effective regional climate policy will do justice to all the poor and vulnerable people of the region and their aspiration for economic development.
In this context, SAARC has already taken some positive steps towards addressing climate change. Recognizing that climate change is putting obstacles to meeting food security, water and energy needs, adequate livelihood options and maintaining biodiversity in the region, SAARC has already come out with three important common statements on climate change, including the Dhaka Declaration on Climate Change, which endorsed the SAARC Action Plan on Climate Change. What we need now is follow up on these actions, including formulation and implementation of detailed, prioritized and time bound plans for each of the major themes mentioned in the Action Plan. SAARC also needs to have mechanisms in place to ensure the implementation of the action plan.
Climate change is one of the major issues to be discussed during the 16th SAARC Summit to be held in Bhutan from 28-29 April, 2010. South Asia must use this forum for agreeing on a time-bound road map for regional cooperation on climate change and send a strong message the world that SAARC demands a fair, binding and ambitious treaty to protect the world from the adverse impacts of climate change.
Nepal has also raised its voice on climate change in various international meetings and organized the regional conference “From Kathmandu to Copenhagen” from 31 August to 1 September, 2009. The Government of Nepal also drew the attention of the world by organizing a cabinet meeting at Everest Base Camp in Kalapathar. Now it is time for Nepal to work with its neighbors in South Asia to learn from best practices in the region and ensure that its voice is heard in international forums. Together we can indeed make a difference.
The note is circulated by CANSA Nepal team before 16 SAARC summit