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.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
The experience of the Saralbhanga River, which flows from Bhutan to India, shows the power of involving local people in river management.
As the world's biggest polluter, what China decides to do with its energy policy matters to the whole planet. And while progress on the domestic front has rightly won Beijing praise from climate scientists, China is the world's largest funder of coal plants overseas. Is the country employing double standards?
The EU’s decision to phase out palm oil biodiesel is likely to backfire, with negative repercussions not just on the countries concerned but also on international relations and the climate. The EU should hence invest more heavily in climate diplomacy in order to find a real solution to problems such as deforestation and wildlife loss.
Acute competition to access valuable resources in forested areas in Myanmar has, amongst other factors, contributed to large-scale deforestation and environmental degradation. This has had disastrous consequences for local communities dependent upon these forests for food, water, fuel, shelter and income.
The Western Ghats are one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world and form an important watershed. In five Indian states, the mountain range is at the heart of environmental conflicts: Fragmentation and deterioration of forests, biodiversity loss, pollution, soil erosion and landslides, soil infertility and agrarian stress, depleting groundwater resources, climate change and introduction of alien species, caused by developmental and mining projects, have raised the alarm in recent years.
Peru’s new president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (known as PPK), has revealed his government’s intention to prioritise mineral extraction and trade relations with China in a series of actions and public statements. Since his victory in an election run-off on June 5, Kuczynski has also declared the need for Peru to stimulate further economic activity by processing and refining minerals, in addition to simply exporting them.
India is all set to embark on exploration and other developmental activities pertaining to polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the signing of a contract between the Minister of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), that formalises India’s exclusive rights for exploration in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean for 15 years. India is not the only country that is actively tapping into the resources of the region, or is attempting to do so. China, South Korea and Germany have also been granted permission to prospect for polymetallic nodules and sulphides, increasing the potential for competition in the region.
Intensive international cooperation is a key prerequisite for successful and ambitious global climate action. Russia, one of the world’s top 5 greenhouse gas emitters and the second largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, has long been regarded as one of the major veto players in international climate politics. Nevertheless, during the last decade climate awareness among Russian policymakers and other relevant stakeholders has increased dramatically. This is illustrated by the fact that the updated Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation refers to climate change as a threat to national and public security. The Paris Agreement gave the Russian climate policy a new strong impetus.
A fifth of Mongolian land has been earmarked for mining. Investors are so happy about this they have given a new moniker to the world’s second-biggest landlocked country: “Minegolia”. Mining’s share of Mongolia’s economy has doubled in a decade. Copper, gold, uranium, silver and coal mines account for 20-30% of national GDP and 89% of annual exports. Oyu Tolgoi, already one of the largest mines in the world, is expected to expand during the next few years despite weak commodities prices, and will have an increasing impact on the country’s economy and its ecology.
High in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan Mountains, the twin effects of climate change and gold mining have combined to pose a potential environmental and human health disaster.
In May 2011, two weeks before I was scheduled to start research in the region, a Mongol herder named Mergen was hit by a mining truck while protecting his pastureland in Xilingol, Inner Mongolia. He was dragged 140 feet and killed. His death sparked a month of protests.
Haze from Indonesian fires has again blanketed Singapore and Malaysia. Prevention strategies are improving, but will likely take years to become truly effective.
A commentary by Jackson Ewing from the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.
REDD+, a global framework designed to reward governments for preserving forests, has pledged nearly $10 billion to developing countries. But minorities, indigenous people, the poor, and other marginalized groups that live in forest areas often end up paying more than their fair share of the costs of environmental cleanup and conservation while getting less in return. What can be done to change this?