As disasters wreak havoc all over South Asia, health impacts have increasingly emerged as a major concern for communities and governments in the region. It underscores the need for concerted efforts towards building synergies between the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly now, in the post-disaster reconstruction phase, to ensure “building back better” and future disaster prevention.
Iraq is on the verge of an environmental breakdown, and climate change is not helping. The country's fragile environment and the increasing scarcity of natural resources — particularly water — are a result of poor environmental management, as well as several political and historical factors. However, as climate change impacts add to the existing pressures, the environmental collapse turns into a security issue.
A multi-sectoral and multilateral approach to South Asia's rivers could provide sustainable development, but it needs to include those already marginalised by a narrow development path.
After close to 40 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan may be poised to begin a period of economic recovery. Electrifying remote areas and establishing pervasive political control is critical to its success. India is currently planning and funding several major hydropower projects along the Kabul River and its tributaries. Micro-hydropower is bringing electricity to remote areas such as the Banda Miralamji Village in eastern Nangarhar Province. However, in some areas far from the capital, the central government in Kabul and opposition groups are struggling for control and influence. While electrification of a village often eases poverty, health concerns, and improves communication, it does not always benefit the government in Kabul.
In many ongoing armed conflicts, water has been used as a weapon of war, but it can also be a strong instrument of peace.
In July 2018, a partially completed dam in Laos’ Attapeu province collapsed, washing away people and villages in its path. Hundreds of people were missing and more than six thousand lost their homes. And after last summer’s hurricanes, U.S. citizens in Houston and Puerto Rico escaped death but were forced to evacuate when dams were flooded. Dam failure can be catastrophic for people, property, and power – and the risks are rising.
The experience of the Saralbhanga River, which flows from Bhutan to India, shows the power of involving local people in river management.
China’s vision of a global energy system overemphasises the benefits of connectivity. Planners and investors also have to consider the potential impacts on biodiversity and local community livelihoods from different power generation methods and find ways to prevent them.
Ignoring cross border impacts of large infrastructure projects will spark conflict along rivers, argues Peter King. National level environmental impact assessments that ignore cross border impacts are likely to create conflict between countries.
The surge in the frequency and intensity of climate change impacts has raised the alarm about how this could hamper coastal activities. Several critical ports in the Indo-Pacific region are hubs of international trade and commerce and at the same time vulnerable to typhoons, taller waves and erosion. India’s climate diplomacy at the regional level could activate climate-resilient pathways for port development and management.
Climate change threatens conflict and poverty in the Arab region, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In a report published last week, the agency suggested climate risks could derail development gains, such as the decrease in infant mortality and the achievement of near universal primary education.
As Day Zeroes are becoming commonplace across the world, India needs to prepare itself for its worst-ever water crisis by establishing a network of water policies and programmes, ranging from community engagement to multilateral/bilateral collaboration.
In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.
Iraqi Kurdistan is blessed with abundant water resources, but these resources are under increasing stress. Changing demographics, dam building in neighboring countries, and drought have driven Kurdish hydropolitics to a critical juncture where two distinct water futures are possible—and both have implications for regional stability and for U.S. interests.
In a candid interview, the head of Mekong River Commission, Pham Tuan Phan, talks about how important it is to involve China to sustainably develop the river basin.