ISLAMABAD: The temperature has been increasing in South Asia and the climate has started changing due to which floods and droughts are being experienced in various parts of South Asia, said Director Climate Action Network (Can) South Asia Sanjay Vashist on Monday.

Speaking at a seminar titled ‘South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc)- Challenges and Opportunities in Changing Regional Dynamics’ via a video link, Mr Vashist said that it takes a few years to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster and that recently, natural disasters occur each year.

Last year was the warmest year ever, he said.

He stressed that the civil society should play its role in bringing Saarc countries closer and that data regarding the management of water in the region should be shared in order to avoid wars in the future.

Experts call for closer collaboration between Saarc countries to combat impacts of climate change

Mr Vashist said India’s reservoirs are only left with 20pc water and that with time, water related issues will increase in his country.

“It is already being said that the third world war will be fought over water and a large number of people will migrate due to natural disasters. These migrations will be from rural to urban areas and from urban areas to outside of South Asia,” he said.

When asked a question, he said all concerned countries were to blame for making Saarc a weak association.

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan Representative Mome Saleem said South Asian countries were faced with common problems, which require common solutions.

“Gender discrimination is prevalent all over South Asia, so steps should be taken for empowering women by making gender specific policies and legislation and countries in the region should learn from the other’s experiences,” she said, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) representative Dr Imran Khalid shared details of water related complexities in relation to climate change and spoke about the need for a trans-border climate change adaptation strategy.

Other than implementation gaps, track two discussions on water issues of the region should also be initiated, he suggested.

Action Aid Pakistan’s Aftab Alam said small farmers and other weaker segments of society have to suffer the impacts of climate change more. He demanded that Saarc countries incorporate the voices of vulnerable communities in its discussions.

Lok Sanjh’s Dr Shahid Zia explained the nature of political challenges which deter efforts to collaborate and respond to the threats of climate change in South Asia.

He said Saarc must be revived as an effective platform for finding common solutions to save the communities and agriculture of the region from the effects of climate change.

The seminar was hosted by the Sustainable Agriculture Action Group in collaboration with SDPI.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2016