Millions of people in South Asia are facing devastation as a result of climate change. The nature of the challenges and the threats of disasters induced by climate change demand trans-boundary solutions and hence, it is imperative for all the governments in South Asia to enhance cooperation and collaboration at the SAARC level to evolve mechanisms to protect lives and agriculture across the South Asian Region.
The panel of experts on climate change, water governance and inequalities expressed these views during the seminar ‘SAARC-Challenges and Opportunities in Changing Regional Dynamics’ held by Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan (HBS), Sungi Foundation, Roots for Equity, Lok Sanjh, and ActionAid Pakistan here on Monday.
Director Climate Action Network (CAN) South Asia Sanjay Vashist shared his views with the audience about the impacts of climate change in South Asia including shrinking cross-border resources. He said that South Asian governments lacked the capacity to respond to these challenges while working in isolation. Therefore, they must join hands to find solutions for the vulnerable communities across South Asia.
“The climate financing at a global level is shrinking and thus it is high time for the South Asian governments to mobilize their own resources”, Sanjay said. The nature of the disasters in South Asian countries including floods and draughts exist across the region and thus it can be responded to through collaborative mechanisms.
Dr. Imran Khalid of SDPI presented details of water related complexities in relations to climate change and said that we need a trans-border climate change adaptation strategy. He suggested that besides addressing implementation gaps, track two discussions around crucial water issues of the region must be initiated.
Aftab Alam Khan of Actionaid Pakistan highlighted the level of inequalities linked with the impacts of climate change. He said that small farmers and other weaker segments of society have to face most of the adverse impacts of climate change. He demanded that SAARC countries should incorporate the voices of these vulnerable communities in its discussions at the highest levels.
Mome Saleem of Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan suggested that to redress the issue of gender inequality which was prevalent across South Asia, the patriarchal mindset needed to be changed through education and social endeavors.
Dr. Shahid Zia of Lok Sanjh explained the nature of political challenges that deterred the efforts to form collaborations to respond to the threats of climate change in South Asia. He said that SAARC must be revived as an effective platform to find common solutions to save our communities and agriculture from the impacts of climate change. Asim Saqlian of Oxfam in Pakistan on the occasion suggested that it was high time to raise demand for the climate finance, especially in the South Asian region.