[Islamabad, Pakistan] – December 17, 2013 Policy makers and experts from across South Asia reinforced the need for cooperation to jointly address mounting climate change effects in the region. The frequency of natural catastrophes and disasters in South Asia has increased over the years, putting one of the most populated regions in the world at immense risk. Realising the immediacy of attention required to address issues related to climate change, food security and population dynamics in South Asia, parliamentarians, policy makers and experts from across the region have come together to deliberate over and design policy actions for joint redressal of common challenges to the region. The high-level meeting has brought together over 60 policymakers and experts and has been organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan (SDPI), Climate Action Network of South Asia (CANSA), Oxfam, along with Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI observed that climate change issues also constitute security threats and are not just confined to environmental concerns. While explaining multiple crises facing the region, he elaborated that climate change effects also threaten food security across South Asia. Tauqeer Shiekh, CEO, Leads Pakistan, said that instead of promoting alternative lifestyles in the face of climate change effects, there is a need to ensure sustainable livelihoods in the region.
Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industries, observed that the world has witnessed a number of crises since 1995 and food security has emerged as one of the most acute ones in the South Asian region. “South Asian nations must commit to ensuring food security across the region by the year 2020”, he said. He also highlighted how multi-dimensional water crisis, energy intensity of green revolution and technologies, and agricultural diversification to high value crops are aggravating the food insecurity situation in South Asia. Despite substantial increase in the production of cereals in South Asia over the last ten years, there has been no significant reduction in the number of people suffering from food insecurity. This is because food security requires not only availability of food but also adequate access to it. Hence, food insecurity in South Asia cannot be addressed without meeting the poverty challenge.
Ikram Syed, Member of Parliament from Afghanistan, spoke about the need for governments to provide incentives to the private sector to undertake environment-friendly production processes. “Governments in South Asia should share best practices, invest in technologies that help prevent the loss of agricultural land, and ensure food security for their populations”, he said.
Ram Kishan from CANSA indicated the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change effects. Hence, “climate change policies must be developed at national, regional and global levels, while steps must be taken to protect lives and livelihoods,” he said. He also brought the issue of migration to the discussion, and stated that, “extreme events regularly cause migration and force displacement of people”. Participants at the occasion also lamented the lack of implementation on measures taken for regional cooperation in South Asia. Also present at the meeting were Kinley Om, MP Bhutan, Shahida Rahmani, MNA Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq Mukta, Oxfam, Ananda Pokhrel, MP from Nepal, among others.
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