Climate: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will continue to support efforts to foster environmental sustainability, climate-resilient economic development and enhanced climate and disaster risk management in SAARC countries, the advisor for the South Asian department of the ADB, Liping Zheng, has assured.

He made this assurance in a meeting held among SAARC member countries to study climate risks in the region held in Thimphu on February 16 and 17.

The assurance was also made after ADB resource persons, Dr Arabinda Mishra and Ulka Kelkar, pointed out the need to consider and assess regional impacts of climate change in the SAARC member countries.

Liping Zheng highlighted the challenges faced by South Asia due to climate change and stated that cooperation in the area of environment and climate change remains a high priority of SAARC member countries.

The study on climate risks in the SAARC region: Ways to address the social, economical and environmental challenges states that there is a need to integrate climate and development, align climate change actions and efforts to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs), enhance capacity building efforts at the regional level, address cross-sectoral gaps and focus on cross-ministry coordination in each member country.

The two resource persons also stated that there is need to consider climate change resilient development pathways, address issues relating to disaster management and funding adaptation needs in SAARC.

They also emphasised the need to take measures to improve access to adaptation funding, enhance regional cooperation in the field of climate change as it is a shared issue and focus on technical development and transfer of technology.

Participants from the seven SAARC countries, after the presentation, pointed out that since the study was conducted in 2013, there is need to update it in the present context.

The participants then decided that resource persons would prepare a quick update of the study based on views expressed by the delegations during the meeting and with updated inputs already available in the latest publications of member countries.

The updated study would be forwarded to the SAARC secretariat by March 31 this year.

NEC secretary, Chencho Norbu, who chaired the two-day meeting said the resource persons, based on the updated inputs received from member countries, would prepare a revised study for circulation among the member countries through the SAARC secretariat by July 31 this year.

The meeting recommended that the SAARC secretariat may formally approach the ADB to provide financial and technical assistance to carry out the recommended tasks.

NEC’s chief for climate change division, Thinley Namgyel, said climate risk study, led by the SAARC secretariat with technical and financial support of the ADB, is an opportunity for the member countries to identify common risks and challenges from climate change and recommend a way forward for further cooperative action.

He said the cause of climate change and its major impacts are not always restricted to national boundaries and some actions require regional cooperation. In this regard, he urged that the member countries must take the opportunity of the mandate from our leaders to further enhance cooperative action to address a common threat from climate change.

The NEC secretary said SAARC, as a region, is most vulnerable to climate risks and climate is a concern for all member countries. “Through this kind of collaboration and cooperation, we can stand firm and tackle difficulties and challenges,” he said.

Tashi Dema