Sri Lanka is among the countries expected to be worst affected by climate change, with adverse effects on all sectors of the economy, increasing the country’s vulnerability, threatening its overall growth and development.“Climate change is the biggest threat at global level. It will impact everybody. Although Sri Lanka is a small country, Sri Lankans have to be prepared to face it,” Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Dr. Bindu Lohani said.
A study is being conducted by the ADB on Regional Economics of ‘Climate Change in South Asia: Adaptation and Impact Assessment’ to estimate the costs and benefits of adaptation in six South Asian countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.The study will focus on six key sectors namely agriculture, forest ecosystems, water, coastal and marine resources, energy and health.
“Higher education, ICT and innovation need to be given more attention. This would motivate the younger generations to be more occupied. Innovations don’t just come from reading books. I am happy to hear that Sri Lanka is going to be South Asia’s biggest star, with its new era of innovation,” Dr. Lohani added.
ADB will render its support to construct several hydropower plants in Sri Lanka to reduce CO2 emissions. In order to resolve the problem of lack of water in the North, the ADB is in the process of designing an integrated water resource development project that would bring water from the Mahaweli River to the North Central Province.
Under a business-as-casual scenario, climate change would decrease Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2 percent in 2050, ranging between 0.5 percent and 2.6 percent within 90 percent confidence interval. In the long term, the average total economic loss associated with climate change impacts could reach 6.5 percent of the country’s GDP in 2100.It is thought that in order to keep the global temperature rise below 20C, the global community should take action to line in with agreements made in recent years by world political leaders or in other words the so-called ‘Copenhagen-Cancun agreements’.
If such action is taken, the ADB believes that the total economic cost of climate change in Sri Lanka would only be about 1.4 percent of GDPby 2100.However, in order to compensate for the reduction in real GDP due to climate change in the coming years, Sri Lanka would need to increase its investment – GDP ratio.