European Union Conference on Natural disasters and increased vulnerability to climate change

May 30 2016,  10.11 AM IST || Pocket News Alert

New Delhi, India, 30th May 2016 – In light of the growing prevalence of natural disasters and increased vulnerability to climate change in South Asia, the European Union Delegation to Nepal hosted a regional conference on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation on Kathmandu, on May 26-27. The conference was organized in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Centre for South Asian Studies, and DAI Europe.

European Union Conference on Natural disasters and increased vulnerability to climate change

South Asia is one of the most vulnerable to natural disasters and to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, the region is home to creative initiatives which can inspire the rest of the world. With new international commitments, such as the Paris Agreements signed on April 22 2016, there is renewed momentum for more efforts. During the two-day conference, Government officials joined with experts, practitioners and journalists to share emergent solutions.

This unique opportunity was successful in highlighting new pathways for the region.Speaking as chief guest, the Deputy Prime Minister of NepalH.E. Mr. BhimRawal said that while “all of us in the region are facing one or the other type of natural disasters, there has till date, been very little concrete done to put in place a regional response mechanism and a collaborative approach. We need to redouble efforts among SAARC countries to carefully analyze, prioritize, plan and implement action plansso that there is appropriate information sharing amongst us.”

The European Union has been a long-standing partner to South Asian nations. By supporting targeted events which bring together institutions, civil society, think tanks and other actors, South Asia as a region is able to envision change and celebrate successes. Her Excellency, RensjeTeerink, EU Ambassador to Nepal and to the SAARC said “I am confident that the Conference deliberations will be instrumental in designing additional DRR and Climate Change Adaptation-related projects within the larger SAARC development framework”.

The conference dwelt on common challenges faced by the region such as the tsunami in Sri Lanka and The Maldives, massive flooding in Uttarakhand in India and in Bangladesh, earthquakes in Pakistan and in Nepal and the regular episodes of humanitarian disasters and massive casualties despite of all efforts of the governments.Conference participants stressed the importance of shifting from a state of victimhood, into a harbour of best practices for the rest of the world.

The role of the media in reducing the risk of and responding to natural disasters was also highlighted. Journalists from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India were present at the event. Participants discussed the need to look at natural disasters as a news event, striving for a humanisation, accuracy and timeliness in reporting. The media was also noted to play a role in disseminating and facilitating the implementation of strategies and programmes, as well as raising awareness among the public.

Regionally, the effects of climate change have been felt in more ways than just natural disasters. Speakers also discussed on how climate change is impacting water and food security, and how women and the poor are often most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They shared practical examples of how these situations have been addressed and the lessons learnt along the path.

The European Union funds the Global Climate Change Alliance+ (GCCA+), benefittingsouth Asia,which operates on a total budget of €300 million worldwide to help ensure that those most vulnerable to climate change are able to increase their capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change. It also takes into account climate resilience and promotes energy efficiency in its development programmes. Through its humanitarian programmes managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office, it works actively to prevent and address disasters, including by promoting risk-reduction activities in the communities.The European Union reiterated its commitment to continue supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as disaster risk reduction in South Asia and around the world.

Overall, through this event, participants proposed new ways of moving forward into an uncertain future and a changing climate. Bringing together key people from around South Asia proved to be a successful way of fostering mutual learning.

About the European Union (EU)

The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. European integration can be traced back to the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential. It has set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders. It is the largest donor of development and humanitarian aid in the world.

EU-SAARC relations

In line with the European Consensus on Development, the Agenda for Change and the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) Regulation, EU development assistance in the SAARC region aims at eradicating poverty by supporting broad-based inclusive and sustainable growth, promoting conditions conducive to trade and integration within the region, enhancing governance and increasing political and social stability. The Agenda for Change also promotes a focus on helping reduce developing countries' exposure to global shocks such as climate change, ecosystem and resource degradation and support capacity development and technology transfer, including in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies.

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

About CSAS

The Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) is a fully independent, non-political, secular, research think-tank based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It organizes conferences and conducts research in areas of South Asian regional cooperation, peace and conflict in South Asia, small arms proliferation, trade and connectivity and strategic issues concerning South Asian countries as well as Nepal's conduct of international relations. CSAS is also involved in research, dissemination and deliberation on Nepal's current peace process and constitution drafting with several programs on federalism and integration.

About DAI

DAI works on the frontlines of international development. Transforming ideas into action—action into impact. We are committed to shaping a more livable world. We tackle fundamental social and economic development problems. We work with a wide range of clients, including national and local governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, private corporations, and philanthropies. Since 1970, we have worked in more than 150 countries—delivering results across the spectrum of international development contexts, from stable societies and high-growth economies to challenging environments racked by political or military conflict.