The final day of the 5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum started off with a panel discussion moderated by Amy Leung (Deputy Director General, ADB, Philippines). The session focused on ‘Climate Resilient Development’ and signified the importance of the Paris Agreement. If the Paris Agreement did not take place in a scenario where ‘business as usual’ was going forward, the increase in temperature we would be looking at is about 6%. The Paris Pathway for Asia and the Pacific was discussed in depth at the session and focused on the tipping points related to 2%. 22 of the 29 developing countries have already ratified the Paris Agreement which is a step forward in achieving climate resilient development as the effects of climate change are felt mostly by those most vulnerable living in the most exposed areas in the region.
Building hazard maps and creating awareness via education were some of the ways of protecting those vulnerable while a controversial topic was touched upon when Kira Vinke of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany suggested that people in the region should be taught to move away from their traditional knowledge of weather changes as they are not applicable in a world where climate change has altered monsoon patterns.
Jeremy Bird, Director General of the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka focused on how industrialisation increased the spread of agriculture around the globe which emits 7-12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. He also recognised that the agriculture sector was a key area for mitigation in the region. Professor Mahanama from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka addressed the issue of Asian societies and its dependence on the Monsoons. His ideas focused on how lifestyle changes are mandatory in an era where climate change drives natural processors, specifically around the Bay of Bengal which impacts all the small island nations in the said geographic area. He also focused on how Asian cities were not built to respond to climate change. Restructuring our cities to withstand droughts and cyclones was proposed as an alternative to relocation, especially in islands like Sri Lanka where limited land, catchment areas and Human Elephant Conflict play a major role in selecting sites for relocation. He praised Sri Lanka’s vision of developing greater Colombo as a megapolis city, where the structures are moving inwards away from the coastline prone to disasters due to the rise in sea levels. The Sri Lankan government is also working on a program that allows state banks to provide bank loans to promote solar panels in houses as a means of including clean power to the national grid that runs 60% on hydropower and the rest on a coal power plant that has caused the recent power cuts in the island.
In an age where not just villagers and farmers but world leaders also deny climate change, Christina del Rio of the Action on Climate Today focused on how to overcome climate denial. Her ideas revolved around humans’ response to fear and speaking to hearts and minds.
Signing off from Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Written by: Dulanga Nimanthie Sahabandu Witharanage