Following the Paris COP 21 meeting, where water management was prominent in discussions on responding to climate change, a two-day meeting of experts from seven South Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – and the international community kicks off today in Colombo. With recent floods in Sri Lanka, ongoing flooding in Peninsular South Asia and the last two consecutive years of El Nino drought that effected nearly 330 million people in India alone fresh in the minds of policymakers and affected communities, this meeting organised by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and sponsored by the World Bank (WB) through the South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) Technical Assistance on climate change and water resources management, will address the challenge of enhancing capacities at all levels to manage water resources more effectively in South Asia in order to adapt successfully to climate change and minimize risks to communities and economies.
Recent devastating floods, droughts and heat-waves across South Asian countries highlight the challenges ahead in preparing for and responding to climate change. Building on three diagnostic papers prepared under the first phase of the technical assistance the SAWI project, which is being implemented by the IWMI and the WB, the meeting will enable unprecedented sharing of knowledge and experience across the region, a key element in responding to change when so much of the region’s water resources are transboundary in nature. The meeting will also address critical challenges facing countries in managing groundwater more effectively in the context of climate change.
According to WB Team Leader Dr. Rafik Hirji, “This SAWI-supported technical assistance has the objective of collaboratively building knowledge, tools and capacity across the region to assist governments in adapting to the emerging climate change threats in the water sector through developing effective policy frameworks as well as practical planning, development and management actions that promote effective adaptation responses.”
The experts meeting brings together key decision-makers from seven South Asian countries to: establish a network of specialists on water and adaptation in South Asia, review phase I work, and seek guidance and support for the establishment of a second phase, focused on the development of adaptation frameworks in respective countries.
In his inaugural address, former Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Vice-Chair Professor Mohan Munasinghe will examine whether South Asia’s water sector is resilient enough to adapt to climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Over two days, more than 50 participants will tackle these and other core questions, seeking to shape further the adaptation frameworks necessary at all levels to support more effective climate change adaptation.
Co-organiser of the meeting, Dr. Alan Nicol from the IWMI, said that this meeting “is about addressing the challenges for all at a more collective and coherent level – including assessing the current state of knowledge and establishing ways and means of ensuring more effective knowledge dissemination in future across South Asia.”