Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 2 Number 4 (2010)

Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management 2010 2 4

doi: 10.3850/S1793924011000824

Climate Change Adaptation Research in South Asia: An Overview

Rajib Shaw
Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University,
Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


South Asia with its population of about 1.3 billion is one of the regions in the world highly exposed to a variety of natural as well as human-induced hazards. Climate change is already taking place, and the South Asian countries, particularly the poorest people, are most at risk. The impacts of higher temperatures,more variable precipitation, more extreme weather events, and sea level rise are felt in South Asia and will continue to intensify. In South Asia, disasters have 16% stake in South Asia, which contribute to 47% of death and 41% affected people due to disasters. Increasing trends of natural disasters and their threatening impacts on lives and livelihood have resulted in a paradigm shift in disaster management in all the countries of South Asia—from one post-disaster relief and rehabilitation to holistic management of disasters covering all phases of disasters. The significance of CCA (climate change adaptation) DRR (disaster risk reduction) synergy cannot be felt more by vulnerable communities who do not feel the impact of climate change or natural disaster sectorally, but it hits them as a combined whole with devastating effects.

The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) initiated a “Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation of Environment” in 1991 and another study on “Greenhouse Effect and its Impact on the Region” in 1992, which recommended regional measures in sharing experiences, scientific capabilities and information on climate change, sea level rise, technology transfer, etc. Through a series of studies and research, SAARC region has a high political will and governance framework for both CCA and DRR. There are several initiatives by the regional bodies (including SAARC), national governments, and research organizations.

Recent review reports on research and practice on CCA of the region (including that of UNFCCC) suggest a strong need to conduct implementation-oriented research in different sectors affected by climate change. To conduct future comprehensive research, GET (Governance–Education–Technology) framework is suggested, with specific connotation to different types of technologies (Implementation-Oriented Technology (IOT), Process Technology (PT), and Transferable Indigenous Knowledge (TIK)). This framework looks 11 different sectors, including urban risk reduction, coastal zone management, mountain ecosystem, arid area management,water resource management, river management, forest management, agriculture risk management, health risk management, housing, and economics of CCA. It is found from the analysis that while there is strong emphasis on IOT, PT and TIK need additional inputs and resources. In the GET matrix, education-related research has less emphasis, in contrast to technology or governance. A balanced approach of engineering and social research is suggested in due course.

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