Regional Co-operation in Building Resilience to Climate Change

By Vositha Wijenayake

Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia speaking at the South Asia Regional Consultation on Climate Change Adaptation Managing Risk for Resilience held on the 24th of June 2013 in Delhi, said that South Asian countries are working on adaptation, mitigation and the difficulties we are facing.

“Since South Asia is a linked with sharing natural resources, it will be unfortunate if we ignore this fact,” he added. Highlighting facts that were presented in the SAARC Assessment paper published by CAN South Asia, Mr. Vashist highlighted the importance of assessing the realties, the barriers that SAARC is facing to translate political will into action. He further added that according to the indicators in the assessment report, all countries are vulnerable and need robust integrated climate strategy. “Adaptation is a priority, and each country should have a way to link it with a neighbouring country to link up on the regional level.”

South Asian countries have a big development need, and access to energy is a main focus. “Our carbon foot print is not significant. But we need to be careful to maintain it and look towards the future. Focus is on development, low carbon or carbon neutral development. All countries need to come together and have an effective assessment.”

“One of the challenges that we noticed in the regional level, is the limited coordination and the huge funding gap, huge information gap. Though information is there it is not accessible by those who are in need of it. There is a lack of regional cooperation as well.”

Speaking on access to funding, Mr. Vashist sais that, “There is no modality in implementation in energy efficiency. South Asian development fund is not meeting targets expected, and nothing done to address the needs of vulnerable communities. Only one country in South Asia is eligible to access the adaptation fund. It is due to lack of governance mechanisms in place. India is the only country with NIE is whole of South Asia.”

“We do need incremental funding to promote join action, that is why incremental funding from international mechanism is important, even bilateral funding should go into regional building and not dividing the region,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Vashist said, “We are vulnerable, we cannot ignore any action on climate change. We have to talk about resilience, disaster risk reduction.” “I hope that Uttarakhand is the last slap on our face, before we start integrating disaster risk management in our policy framework.”

Vositha Wijenayake is the Policy and Advocacy Co-ordinator of CANSA and, Regional Facilitator for Asia for the Southern Voices Programme. She is a lawyer by profession and has an LLM from University College London. She specialises in International Environmental Law and Human Rights Law. She has been tracking the UNFCCC negotiations since 2009 with a legal and gender focus.