Climate diplomacy for sustainable peace in South Asia

Basu Gautam

Basu Gautam

Climate diplomacy for sustainable peace in South Asia

Home to roughly one quarter of the world’s population, South Asia faces unique challenges related to the climate with significant repercussions

Climate change is more than just a problem for the environment; it has turned into a major problem that interweaves with social, economic, and political scenes. This intersection is most obvious in South Asia, a region that is particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change. As outrageous climate occasions escalate, water shortage looms, and agrarian efficiency falters, the potential for clashes over assets and livelihoods develops. Climate diplomacy, which brings together nations to find sustainable solutions to problems resulting from climate change, has emerged as a crucial tool for fostering peace and stability in the region.

Home to roughly one quarter of the world’s population, South Asia faces unique challenges related to the climate with significant repercussions. The region is directly affected by climate change, with rising sea levels posing a threat to low-lying coastal areas and melting Himalayan glaciers affecting the availability of water for millions. Ecosystems are being disrupted, infrastructure is being damaged, and social inequality is getting worse as droughts, floods, cyclones, heat waves, and other extreme weather events become more frequent and intense. In addition to posing immediate threats, these environmental stressors have long-term effects on regional peace and stability because they exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities, increase migration patterns, and strain resources that are already scarce.

Countries in South Asia are beginning to embrace climate diplomacy as a means of reducing conflict and fostering cooperation because they are aware of the intricate connections between climate change and peace. Environmental discretion alludes to the strategic endeavors and exchanges embraced by nations to address the impact of environmental change. It perceives that the difficulties resulting from environmental change require global participation and exchange by promoting shared liability. By taking part in environment tact, South Asian nations can encourage discourse, build trust, and create cooperative arrangements that advance manageable turn of events, guarantee impartial dispersion of assets, and decrease the potential for clashes emerging from environment-related stressors.

Impact on South Asian security

Climate change is a serious threat to South Asia’s security and stability. The region is highly susceptible to the effects of a changing climate because of its complex socioeconomic fabric and heavy reliance on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and water resources. The flighty storm designs, expanded recurrence of dry spells and floods, and rising ocean levels have direct ramifications for food security, water shortage, and dislodging of networks. These difficulties have the potential to exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities, trigger mass migrations, and heighten tensions over limited resources, posing security risks and putting pressure on the stability of the region’s nations. One of the essential worries is the effect of environmental change on water assets, especially with regard to trans-limit stream frameworks. South Asia’s important rivers, like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and the Indus, are shared by different nations, making water an exceptionally complicated and politically delicate issue. The liquefying Himalayan glacial masses, which feed these streams, influence water accessibility and increase the probability of downstream flooding and environmental disturbances. These problems can possibly raise pressure and clashes among riparian countries, undermining territorial solidness. Tending to security ramifications of environmental change in South Asia requires a compelling environmental strategy that advances participation, discourse, and even-handed execution to guarantee the maintainable and tranquil utilization of shared water assets.

Climate diplomacy, global collaboration 

Effective international cooperation is essential for addressing South Asia’s climate-related issues. Marked by varying political systems, economic development levels, and vulnerability to climate change, South Asian countries can utilize SAARC and BIMSTEC to address environmental challenges. For encouraging collaboration, fostering conversation, and developing joint strategies for mitigating the negative effects of climate change, these forums are essential.

SAARC has eight members—Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and India. It has the potential to improve regional cooperation on climate-related issues. Member-states can share information, best practices, and mechanical headways in fields like environment-friendly power and sustainable horticulture by using SAARC. In addition, SAARC can assist in the development of cooperative projects and mobilize funds for climate resilience projects in the region.

The advancement of South Asia’s long-term goal of sustainable development and the development of trust and cooperation will be possible through SAARC’s expanded role in climate diplomacy. Also, South Asian climate cooperation has another chance with BIMSTEC, which has seven members: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The environment and climate change are just two of several areas where BIMSTEC can facilitate regional collaboration. Member-states can use this platform to share knowledge, develop shared policies, and launch collaborative projects to address climate change issues. The consideration that BIMSTEC pays to South Asia’s waterfront and hilly areas is particularly valuable since it perceives the different impacts of environmental change on different biological systems and takes designated activities into account. By utilizing regional cooperation mechanisms that are already in place, such as SAARC and BIMSTEC, countries in South Asia can enhance their climate diplomacy efforts, encourage cooperation, and successfully address challenges posed by climate change.

Role in global climate action 

To lessen the effects of climate change and promote long-term peace in the region, South Asian nations must significantly contribute to global climate action. South Asian nations recognize the urgent need to lessen emissions of greenhouse gasses and prepare for the effects of climate change. These nations, alongside Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, have made extraordinary attempts to embrace environmentally agreeable arrangements, advance sustainable power, and improve environmental strength. They have also taken part in international environment conservation efforts like the Paris Agreement. Taking part in these discussions focused on necessities and weaknesses and offering their viewpoints can help South Asian nations influence worldwide environmental plans.

Regional climate-induced conflicts 

Examining specific climate-induced conflicts and cooperation in South Asia sheds light on the intricate dynamics of climate change and its effect on regional stability. The India-Pakistan water dispute is a notable example of how tensions over rivers like the Indus have gotten worse as a result of shifting climate patterns, melting glaciers, and increased demand for water resources. This contention features the requirement for coherent environmental strategies and agreeable systems for fair sharing of assets and mitigation of possible struggles.

On the other hand, the region also has instances of climate-induced cooperation. An excellent illustration of this is Bangladesh’s proactive approach to developing a climate refugee policy. As a low-lying deltaic country exceptionally vulnerable to rise in the ocean level and outrageous climate events, Bangladesh has perceived the need to support people displaced by environment-related factors. In addition to demonstrating a commitment to humanitarian principles, this policy establishes a framework for government and international organization cooperation in the fight against climate-induced displacement.

In conclusion, the complexities and interplay between climate change and regional stability are brought to light by examining case studies of climate-induced conflicts and cooperation in South Asia. Policymakers can use climate diplomacy to mitigate conflicts, encourage cooperation, and guarantee the region’s sustainable and peaceful development by comprehending the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change. South Asian nations can benefit from the transformative potential of climate diplomacy through collective efforts and collaborative initiatives, paving the way for a more resilient and harmonious future.

The author is the President of Lumbini World Peace Forum

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