Saturday, March 17, 2012

Asia leads the world in adaptation to climate change

Saleemul Huq in the Daily Star (Bangladesh): I have just returned from attending the second Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum in Bangkok on March 12-13. It was supposed to have been held in October 2011 but had to be cancelled at the last minute due to the floods that devastated Bangkok at that time. It was jointly organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Swedish government (amongst others) and brought together over 800 participants from all over Asia and Pacific including ministers, senior government officials, researchers, NGOs, private sector, UN agencies, media and others, with five plenary sessions and twenty parallel thematic sessions. There were also stalls set up by many organisations and a film competition.

Having attended both the first Asian Adaptation Forum in 2010 as well as the second this month, I am quite sure (based on my work on adaptation globally) that Asia leads the world on the practice, planning and knowledge generation of adaptation to climate change. I give a few examples below to demonstrate why this is so.

Mix of countries and ecosystems: The Asia-Pacific region has by far the biggest population as well as the largest number and variety of countries of all the world's continents. This variety includes developed countries like Japan, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh, small island developing states (SIDS) like the Maldives as well as the giants like China and India.

At the same time, it has all the vulnerable ecosystems like mountains in the Himalayas, low-lying coasts, small islands, mangroves and other forests, drylands, major river systems like the Ganges-Brahmaputra and Mekong and, perhaps most importantly, some of the fastest growing cities and mega-cities.

The knowledge being generated within the region on adaptation in such a wide variety of countries and ecosystems in truly enormous and is also very relevant for many other parts of the world....

Bangkok at sunset, shot by Adam Carr, public domain

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