The need to work together for better climate change adaptation in Nepal
19 Oct 2016

By Binod Parajuli

Climate change is real and it's happening now. The impacts of climate change are becoming more evident by the day; the scenario for Nepal is amongst the most acute. According to a study conducted by Dr. Madhav Karki and his colleagues who study natural resource management and climate change adaptation, glaciers are rapidly retreating (the average rate of retreat is more than 30 metres/year), temperatures are rising (>0.06°C), rainfall is erratic, and extreme weather events such as flood and droughts have increased dramatically.

Nepal's major rivers are glacier-fed and most of the country’s hydropower plants depend on these rivers. Considering these facts, Nepal has to prepare to try and mitigate the effects of climate change as far as possible, and adapt to them to minimize their impacts on livelihoods. The nation’s poorest people and communities are on the frontline. The changing climate has created such a situation where the most vulnerable have everything to lose, and have very little to help them cope with or combat the associated negative impacts of climate change. These impacts are inevitable, and the most vulnerable countries—Nepal being one of them—are also the most affected as their rural communities have low adaptation capacities. When we speak of institutions, we refer to both policies as well as organizations governing the system. Institutions set the "rules of the game" and these are vital when it comes to shaping climate change adaptation.

Nepal has been successful in formulating three policy documents on climate change adaptation: the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), 2010, the Climate Change Policy, 2011, and the National Framework on Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPA), 2011.
Speaking at the Fifth Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Laxmi Kumari Basnet, Under Secretary, Ministry of Population and Environment, Nepal, said, "The Government of Nepal has entered the National Adaptation Plan formulation process. This sets a milestone in our efforts towards shaping climate change adaptation in Nepal."
As a focal point, the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) delegation team led by Basnet is attending the flagship event of the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN). The major aim of this delegation is to share information on climate change adaptation with local- and national- level initiatives. Another major objective for this delegation team has been to learn from other south Asian countries about their best practices and try and replicate them in Nepal.
Governments are key actors in shaping climate change adaptation in any country. The government has a greater role than any other body in creating an enabling environment where all stakeholders can be brought together for effective decision-making.
There are other intergovernmental organizations, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) for instance, NGOs, and community-based organizations working at different levels and scales in shaping climate change adaptation in Nepal. In recent years, there have not just been many local-level initiatives working on climate change, but actual policy-level interventions at the national and global levels. Still, there is the need to integrate both the bottom-up and the top-to-bottom approaches to better shape climate change adaptation and steer it in the right direction. In addition to their regular programmes, these institutions needs to raise a collective voice at international forums such as the Adaptation Forum to get their message across to a larger audience and obtain global commitment to collaborate better and improve adaptation in Nepal.