February 22, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

South Asian Climate Action Conference

Wider expectations on youth engagement

The Nepal Weekly
June 20, 2023

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century – with some areas of the world expected to warm even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.

But climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level and it requires international cooperation to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. The Agreement entered into force less than a year later. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

The South Asian region is a diverse area located in the southern part of the Asian continent and is composed of eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. With a population of over 1.9 billion people, it is considered the most populous region in the world, with various languages, religions, and cultures. Unfortunately, it is also recognized as one of the region’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to its geography, which includes the Himalayan mountain range, coastal areas, and river deltas.

The consequences of climate change in the South Asian region are evident in various aspects, such as melting glaciers in the Himalayas, which result in flooding and the formation of glacial lakes that pose a threat to downstream communities. Coastal areas also suffer from rising sea levels, leading to saltwater intrusion into freshwater sources and difficulty in accessing safe drinking water. The agriculture sector, which is crucial to many South Asian countries, is also affected by erratic rainfall patterns, extreme weather events, and increased temperatures, resulting in lower crop yields and higher food insecurity, particularly for small-scale farmers who rely on their crops for their livelihoods.

Moreover, South Asia is one of the most significant contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, with India being one of the largest emitters worldwide. However, many South Asian countries are taking measures to address climate change, such as implementing renewable energy programs and working towards reducing emissions.

Acknowledging the urgent need for action, the Youth Development Center (YDC), Land Our Future (LOF), and National Youth Council (NYC) are jointly organizing the South Asian Climate Action Conference (SACAC) in 2023 from June 20 to 22 in Kathmandu. Former Minister of Environment Ministry of Nepal Sunil Kumar Manandhar will take the lead of the entire activities conducted during the conference. 

Moreover, the conference aims to provide a platform for young leaders from various South Asian countries representing climate activists, researchers, scholars, government representatives, university students and civil society pioneers to discuss ways to counter the challenges of climate change, share ideas and experiences, and learn from each other. With keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and networking sessions, SACAC 2023 will facilitate the exchange of ideas, best practices, and the creation of partnerships and collaborations among the youth of the region towards a sustainable and resilient future. Around 125 delegates from Nepal and different nations will take part in the grand gathering.

The delegates from different nations and backgrounds, aged between 16 and 40, who will be well-balanced in terms of gender. 

The conference aims to facilitate knowledge sharing, promote collaboration and networking, and inspire young people to take action. The conference will provide a platform for the participants to learn about regional and global climate change issues, share their experiences and contributions, and develop strategies for addressing the challenges of climate change in South Asia.

The conference aims to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change in the South Asian region and the urgent need for action. It seeks to engage a broad range of stakeholders, including youth, civil society, researchers, government officials, and others, to build greater awareness of the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change.

Similarly, the event will be instrumental on sharing knowledge and experiences. That means the conference provides a platform for participants to share their knowledge and experiences of working on climate change issues. It seeks to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders and build a common understanding of the issues, challenges, and opportunities for climate action in the South Asian region.

Moreover, the conference seeks to encourage collaboration among stakeholders working on climate change issues in the South Asian region. It aims to bring together diverse perspectives and encourage the development of partnerships that can help address the complex and interconnected challenges associated with climate change.

Likewise, the event aims to promote the development of innovative solutions to climate change challenges in the South Asian region. It encourages participants to share their ideas and experiences and to explore new approaches and technologies that can help reduce emissions, build resilience, and promote sustainable development.

Importantly, the conference seeks to influence policy at the local, national, and regional levels. It provides an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with policymakers and decision-makers and to share their insights and recommendations for climate action. The conference aims to contribute to the development of more effective and sustainable climate policies in the South Asian region. (By R. P. Narayan)