South Asia has a population of roughly 1.75 billion people, 25% of whom fall below the international poverty line, and 70% live in rural areas of whom the majority, especially women, rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Despite being predominantly agrarian, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are net importers of food. Climate change adds further stress to this highly challenging socio-economic situation.
South Asia has 23.7% of the global population but only 4.6% of the world’s renewable water sources. Countries in the region already face considerable water management challenges due to high population density, poverty, and a high dependence on agriculture as a source of livelihood. Water resources in South Asia are overexploited and depleting fast, and climate change will only exacerbate existing problems through irregular rainfall patterns and increased incidence of floods and droughts.
Four South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan) have successfully applied a new governance framework called “Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change within Governance Systems in South Asia” that allows governments to integrate climate change adaptation into governance systems, policies and plans. This framework identifies barriers and opportunities for climate adaptation mainstreaming.
By 2050, South Asia will need around US$ 500 billion to finance climate change adaptation, and public finances will form a crucial part of that picture. To ensure this, a new framework that helps governments mainstream spending on climate adaptation into domestic budgets, has been successfully implemented in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand.
Dr. Thongchai Roachanakanan works for Thailand’s Ministry of Interior. As director of the Department of Public Works, Town & Country Planning he is responsible for the development of some of the fastest growing cities on earth. It is a level of responsibility that would weigh heavily on most people’s shoulders. But when talking to Dr Thongchai it becomes obvious that climate change and the pressure that it puts on urban areas is a worry that goes beyond the stresses of the traditional workplace.