Asia forges ahead on climate change adaptation

THE 3rd Asia Pacific Adaptation Forum was held in Incheon, Korea from March 18 to 20 with over 700 participants from across the region, including government officials, NGOs, researchers and regional and international organisations. It was hosted by the Ministry of Environment of Korea and the Korea Environment Institute.

This is the third such regional meeting organised by the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and many others. The first two meetings were held in Bangkok, Thailand so this was the first in a different country.

The theme for this year's conference was "Mainstreaming Adaptation into Development." Over the three days, participants met and shared information in a series of plenary and parallel sessions on topics ranging from agriculture, water, cities, coastal zones and dry lands to finance and knowledge generation and sharing.

Over the last three years the Forum has clearly grown in size as well as stature and importance. The level of learning in the region has also improved enormously within a short span of time. Having seen the state of adaptation research, knowledge sharing and putting knowledge into practice around the world, I can safely say that Asia Pacific is far ahead of all the other regions in the world.

One of the significant outcomes of the meeting in Incheon was the launch of an Asia Pacific Forum on Loss and Damage, which has emerged as a new and emerging topic that's related to adaptation.

Asia forging ahead:
Asia, as a region, is clearly forging ahead on the practice and sharing of knowledge on adaptation at both regional as well as national levels. A few examples are mentioned below, which are far from exhaustive. Besides the regular large-scale annual Adaptation Forum meetings (the next one is likely to be in Malaysia in 2014) there have also been other major conferences such as the first Adaptation Science conference held in Australia in 2010 as well as the 6th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA6) which was held in Vietnam in 2012, and the 7th (CBA7) will be held in Bangladesh in April 2013.

There is also a great deal of adaptation activity taking place at the country, city and local levels in many countries in the region, including both the developed countries such as Japan and Australia as well as developing countries. A few examples are cited below.

In addition to hosting the 3rd Asia Pacific Adaptation Forum (which was extremely well organised) Korea is also hosting the newly set Green Climate Fund in the city of Incheon.

Korea is one of the first countries to establish a Korea Adaptation Climate Centre (KACC). The city of Incheon, where the meeting was hosted, was an excellent example of such planning.

Amongst the developed countries around the world Japan has been taking a leading role in adaptation planning and now in adaptation activities. The tsunami that devastated the country a few years ago has made it particularly aware of its coastal vulnerability and also made it sensitive to the issue of loss and damage. Japan has also been supporting an Asian Pacific Network (APN) to support adaptation research in the region.

China is one of the more vulnerable countries to the potential impacts of climate change and Chinese scientists are amongst the world leaders in impacts and vulnerability research. Recently, the government of China initiated a South-South knowledge exchange programme on adaptation to climate change with support from the ministry of foreign affairs of China. China is thus promoting regional cooperation on adaptation in Asia.

Nepal is one of the last of the least developed countries (LDC) to have completed their National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). However, it was able to learn from the experience of other countries and has developed one of the best NAPAs with a major innovation called Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) to enable adaptation funding to flow to the local level for both planning and implementation. Nepal has recently been elected to Chair the LDC Group in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and held a strategy meeting of key LDC negotiators in Kathmandu from March 22 to 24.

Bangladesh has also established itself as a leading player not just in Asia but also globally on the issue of adaptation with its Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) as well the climate change funds. It will gain much greater recognition next month when it hosts the countries which are part of the Cartagena Dialogue in the UNFCCC process and then again from April 18 to 25 when over 200 participants from all over the world will come to Bangladesh to attend the 7th international conference on community based adaptation (CBA7). As the hosts of CBA7 next month Bangladesh will be able to lay claim to the title of "Adaptation capital of the world"!

The writer is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh and senior fellow at the London based International Institute for Environment and Development.
E-mail: [email protected]


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