ISLAMABAD: About 40 per cent of all climate disasters occur in South Asia and the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region, making them most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a new report has said.

According to the ‘State of Gender Eq­uality and Climate Change Asses­s­­ment Report,’ the geologically fragile mountains and coastal floodpla­i­­ns in the areas are vulnerable to erosion, landslides, floods, droughts and saltwater intrusions.

The report was jointly released by the International Centre for Integ­ra­ted Mountain Development (ICIMOD), UN Women and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Friday. The key drivers and pressures in the agriculture, energy and water sectors in South Asia and the HKH region are population growth, rapid urbanisation, unsustainable agricultural and industrial practices, weak management systems, environmental pollution, and climate change.

The report added that these factors are resulting in the degradation of natural resources, water scarcity and food insecurity.

UN report says weak systems, urbanisation, population boom driving climate change

The agricultural emissions are on an upward trend mainly due to use of synthetic fertilisers, crop residue burning and land degradation.

The energy sector’s emissions are around 82 pc of the total GHG emissions in the two regions, and this trend is expected to rise due to rapidly increasing energy demand.

The report added that these issues needed to be addressed through sustainable agricultural practices with an ecological and socio-economic focus.

The water sector in the region is underdeveloped and some areas are already experiencing water stress, while the demand for agriculture, energy, industry and human and livestock use is predicted to rise.

Suggesting medium- and long-term solutions for the agriculture sector, the report called for diversity in production to reduce the risks of climatic shocks, establishing storage and processing infrastructure.

The report also recommended improvement of small land holders and women farmers’ access to financial services and climate services to reduce climate risks in agriculture.

For the energy sector, the report suggested improvement in women’s control over resources by enabling them to benefit from renewable energy options and use them for improving livelihoods and wellbeing.

Water systems should provide services for multiple uses of water and cater to the needs of varied groups as such systems would fulfil irrigation and domestic demands, it added.

Furthermore, policies should be made to ensure water access rights for women and the poor, the report suggested.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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