ApEx Roundtable | Experts emphasize urgency of addressing climate change-related loss and damage
ApEx recently organized a roundtable involving climate stakeholders to delve into topics such as L&D, disaster risk reduction, government initiatives, partnerships for addressing L&D, and the role of youth in climate awareness and action
Nepal recently experienced a simultaneous occurrence of both drought and flooding, underscoring the urgent need to address the impacts of climate change, particularly in relation to loss and damage (L&D). In this context, ApEx recently organized a roundtable involving climate stakeholders to delve into topics such as L&D, disaster risk reduction, government initiatives, partnerships for addressing L&D, and the role of youth in climate awareness and action. Excerpts:
Embrace climate change as an opportunity
Manjeet Dhakal, climate change expert
Historically, our focus has been primarily on the effects and impacts of climate change, often as a means to attract foreign aid. Yet, we have not been educated about an alternative perspective—a viewpoint that regards climate change as not only a challenge but also an avenue for economic benefits. Fortunately, recent years have witnessed increased dialogue, discussions, media coverage, and research on various aspects of climate change, which is undoubtedly a positive shift.
In Nepal, the cornerstones of our economy—agriculture, remittances, tourism, and hydropower—have all borne the brunt of climate change. While the effects on agriculture, tourism, and hydropower are widely recognized, we have not been adequately informed about its potential impact on remittances. These remittances contribute roughly 23 percent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Notably, around 80 percent of our migrant labor force heads to the Middle East and Malaysia, regions experiencing significant temperature increases compared to the global average. Consequently, our assessment of loss and damage should not be limited to our borders but should extend to encompass consequences beyond our political boundaries.
Necessity of scientific research
Pradip Khatiwada, disaster risk management expert
Numerous scientific studies have examined rainfall patterns and the global temperature rise, both contributing factors to instances of loss and damage. L&D is commonly categorized as economic, affecting livelihoods and property, and non-economic, encompassing issues like loss of life, health problems, psychological distress, displacement challenges, as well as damage to biodiversity and cultural heritage. While economic L&D is frequently discussed, the non-economic aspect has not received adequate attention. Therefore, conducting scientific research to evaluate our circumstances is essential. This research aids in anticipating and mitigating disaster impacts, bolstering our self-reliance. Additionally, communicating research findings effectively to vulnerable communities minimizes disaster-related risks.
While a 1.5°C temperature increase might not significantly affect certain countries, it’s a significant concern for Nepal due to its susceptibility to snowmelt-triggered flash floods and related problems. Unlike the sturdy mountains in Europe, our mountainous regions are delicate and vulnerable, warranting our concern.
Educate local communities on climate change
Bharati Pathak, community forest expert
Indigenous communities have played a pivotal role in revitalizing community forests nationwide, contributing significantly to mitigating climate change effects, including loss and damage. However, these communities possess only a basic understanding of climate change consequences such as floods, landslides, and droughts. The discourse on this matter has largely been confined to urban centers and the privileged class, leaving those directly dealing with climate change aftermath with limited awareness. Thus, extending knowledge-sharing initiatives to rural regions is imperative.
While we have actively participated in 27 Conferences of Parties (COP), do local communities truly comprehend the nature of COP, its discussions, and the resulting agreements? The absence of involvement from those at the forefront of climate change impacts casts uncertainty on our ability to achieve climate objectives.
In an environment where information is scarce, misinformation and disinformation thrive. This is evident in local communities’ understanding of carbon trading, where they sought compensation for only a few trees.
Collaborative efforts for climate action a must
Hari Prasad Sharma, Under secretary, Ministry of Forest and Environment
Nepal’s vulnerability to climate change must be comprehensively assessed, including the degree, severity, and exposure of its impact. With about 68 percent of our land featuring slopes greater than 60°, our susceptibility to climate effects is heightened. Moreover, roughly 30 percent of our land lies at altitudes exceeding 2,500 meters, amplifying its sensitivity in sustaining livelihoods. Thus, our geographic circumstances render us particularly vulnerable.
Though climate change policies exist, practical execution is paramount. Policies often resemble wish lists; our focus should shift towards translating them into actionable steps through meticulous implementation. Given the global move towards cooperative decision-making, addressing climate change necessitates a collective approach. Embracing contemporary methods is crucial to effectively combat this issue.
Allocating resources to educate and foster climate change understanding from a young age is essential, as the youth represent future catalysts for change.
Climate change transcends data
Shrichchha Pradhan, climate activist and Miss Nepal World 2023
Nepal’s cultural practices, adaptability to environmental challenges, and community-driven sustainability efforts offer valuable lessons for the global community. By studying and adopting these practices, societies worldwide can take meaningful strides toward addressing climate change, embracing zero-waste lifestyles, and nurturing sustainability. Entrepreneurship within the climate change realm presents an opportunity yielding multiple benefits, including educating the youth on climate intricacies, promoting sustainable practices, and zero-waste principles.
Understanding climate change extends beyond data; it holds a deep emotional dimension impacting local communities, especially in remote areas. These communities daily bear the brunt of climate change, experiencing its far-reaching consequences in ways statistics cannot capture. Their close connection with the environment has traditionally granted them a profound understanding of nature’s patterns. However, recent unpredictable changes from climate change have disrupted this traditional knowledge. Thus, engaging with these communities and providing targeted education about changing consequences is crucial.
Loss and damage as a moral imperative
Adelle Thomas, lead author of IPCC Reports
Loss and damage (L&D) lacks a universally agreed definition within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signifying different meanings for different groups. Nonetheless, L&D generally refers to negative climate change impacts that occur despite mitigation and adaptation efforts.
L&D is often categorized as economic or non-economic. Economic L&D entails quantifiable negative impacts, such as rebuilding infrastructure post-floods or agricultural revenue loss due to drought. Non-economic L&D includes impacts challenging to assign monetary values, like trauma from tropical cyclones or community loss due to displacement.
Both extreme events (heat waves, storms) and slow-onset events (sea-level rise, ocean acidification) contribute to loss and damage.
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