South Asia: how to combat climate vulnerability in a sustainable way

Sharif Mustajib

Abstract: the world is facing an ever destining threat in the history. The prolonged global warming has changed topical characteristics of the climate. In these circumstances, South Asian region is projected to one of the worst sufferers of climate change. The characteristics of South Asian climate are as diverse as its landscape. The region spans a variety of climate zones, including arid deserts, parched rangelands, freezing alpine mountains, and humid tropical islands. Besides, as a region of rapid economic growth there are complexities of dynamics. So, it’s not so easy to combat climate effects without multilateral consensus. Moreover, there are some non-state actors who are deeply involved in this region. In this paper, we will try to identify the effects of climate change in physical existences, agriculture, power generation, sustainable development, health and so on. Evaluating the scenario, we will try to find ways to combat these problems in a sustainable way.


Topography of South Asia: South Asia is the Southern part of Asia topographically situated in Indian Plate. The topography of the region comprises a series of high mountain belts, which are the dominant landforms, and a related complex of plateaus, basins, island arcs, and alluvial lowlands. The Himalayan Mountains are in Northern part and Indian Ocean is situated in Southern part. The Bay of Bengal is vaccinated to Bangladesh and India. The area is comprises of three river basin like Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basin. Politically the region is comprises of 8 countries named Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.



Why South Asia is vulnerable?

With the rapid increase of climate impact, South Asia is at the verge of climate effect due to geographical location along with huge demand of natural resources for vast populations. As a result of global warming, the Himalayan glaciers are melting day by day, sea levels are rising, topical monsoon are changing, and the fertility of land are decreasing. Besides, man-made activities are heavily affecting the harmony of nature. Thus, a large number of the lands are projected to be submerged while 17% of Bangladesh and Maldives will be completely submerged.

Though climate change actually cause of activities by developed countries, we can identify some regional catalysts behind the situation:

  • High demand of resource for 1.7 billion people
  • Lack of all inclusive initiative for climate action
  • Socio-economic unconsciousness of sustainable development


Actors – complex socio economic and political relations:

South Asia is a lucrative region because of its natural resources and geopolitical importance. While mineral and oceanic resources are abundant, big powers, business giants keep an eye to invest in industrial sectors. Besides, the river basin is related with China. On the other hand, India wants to imply it’s hegemony with others and Pakistan is opposed to it since history. Though SAARC is regional organization but it has no fruitful contribution because of India-Pakistan confrontation. All of the countries are signatories of UNEF, IPCC and UNFCC. UNDP and WB are also involved with developmental issues. Bangladesh and Maldives raised their voices several times but it has little impacts. Several civil societies are also working on climate issues.




Globalization: rapid climate degradation behind developmental mockery

Development is necessary to build a nation as well as for climate resilience. Economic well-being reduces vulnerability to climate risks. But in the name of liberal financial market and overflow of capitals, the region is being an imbalanced market of economy. With easy access to telecommunication, life styles of the people are changing that creating unnecessary demand of energy, electricity and manufactured livelihood. According to WB report about 15% of the people live below poverty line (below 1.9 USD) while energy consumption is increasing with a geometric ration by a particular group. It poses an unequal contribution of the resources. River conflicts are increasing to create water-energy. Almost all of the rivers are trapped by dams, barrages. Oceanic climate are also at stake in Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean due to irrational usage of ocean. With climate friendly policy, the utility could be increased but it the matter of regret that policy makers don’t proper knowledge of sustainable development or apathy of such initiative.


 Is Global Governance required? 

The countries of South Asia have participation in UN environmental institutions. All countries are signatories of Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, there are numerous action planes under SAARC. Particular countries have domestic action plane also. Bangladesh already made a climate fund. But the problem is process of implementation, political disunion, inadequate knowledge of climate action etc.

On this issue UNEP, IPCC, UNFCC and such institutions are working to spread consciousness, conducting meetings, promoting researches as their regular activities but they don’t have executive power to implement climate action. So, the question remains over fruitfulness of Global Governance. In these circumstance environmentalists suggests inaugurating separate Environmental Governance globally or regionally. Regional agency can be more fruitful to combat climate disaster implementing mitigation and adaptation simultaneously with regional context. There should be a particular action plan for this region which will be all inclusive mitigating political difference of countries.


Relevant treaties, memorandums and agreements:

To have a look on climate initiatives we can discuss Dhaka Declaration and SAARC Action Plan on Climate Change. The declaration identifies seven thematic areas of cooperation covering adaptation; mitigation; technology transfer; finance and investment; education and awareness; management of impacts and risks; and capacity building for international negotiations.



Combating the climate vulnerability: an all inclusive consensus

As it is clear that the region is highly vulnerable and we are lack of all inclusive consensus we are having two problems. So, to combat climate effect we have to find a way to include countries to take sustainable solution. But the challenge we face first is that how to make decision. On this regard, the recommendations are:

  • Establishing a regional Environmental Governance with the ministries of environment countries. Any development projects of this region have to be assessed by this agency to evaluate environmental sustainability.
  • Generating a climate fund to implement mitigation and adaptation policy. On this regard, regional disputes over transnational watercourses could be solver considering environmental resources as one unite.
  • Rising voice unitarily in global forum to gain global initiative.
  • Establishing soft diplomatic committee to spread climate action by community integration. Such as making people climate conscious, promoting bio-products and renewable energies etc.
  • Integrating regional co-operation for climate friendly investment and upgrading Clean Development Mechanism in business and technology.



South Asian Countries are developing and under developed. With a number of population and poverty, climate vulnerability is another curse can engulf its achievement. It’s high time to take sustainable and action-based initiative.


Sharif Mustajib

student, International relations

University of Chittagong

[email protected]

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One Reply to “South Asia: how to combat climate vulnerability in a sustainable way”

  1. Flooding, food shortages, and stagnating economic growth are just some of the devastating impacts South Asia may experience due to advancing climate change, according to .

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