It has taken some steps, but Nepal has a long way to go to address climate change
Climate change has increasingly been understood as a real threat to human life and our support system. In the late 1970s, climate change discussions were the main focus of the scientific community. After 30 years, people from various spectrums—farmers to politicians, policy-makers, decision-makers, technocrats, technology users and developers and financiers—are anxious about climate change and its impact.
Realizing the urgency of conserving nature and warding off the adverse impacts of climate change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in May 1992 in New York. Nepal, as a party to this convention since July 1994, has implemented climate change-related activities which can be grouped under three stages: Phase I (12 years, 1994-2006); Phase II (3 years, 2007-2009); and Phase III (2 years, April 2010-2012). In the first phase, Nepal prepared the initial national communication document with the support of GEF/UNEP. A few awareness raising activities were also organized.
Among the notable achievements in the second phase, Nepal started preparing the National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA) with the support of various international agencies like GEF, DFID and DANIDA; UNDP provided fee-based technical assistance. In 2009, a regional conference on ‘From Kathmandu to Copenhagen’ was organized with support from DFID, DANIDA and multilateral organizations.
In the third phase, the government established the Climate Change Management Division in the Ministry of Environment with nine permanent officers; it approved NAPA in 2010 and started its implementation; and also approved the Climate Change Policy and a National Framework on Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPA) in 2011. DFID has generously supported the drafting and piloting of the LAPA framework. Funding for scaling up the Renewable Energy program was secured from CIF.
The Climate Change Policy and NAPA have mandatory provisions for channeling at least 80 percent of the total budget to environment conservation. DFID and EU are supporting the implementation of Nepal Climate Change Support Program and adaptation options will be implemented through LAPA framework in 14 districts of mid- and far-western regions. Once adaptation activities are implemented, Nepal will be in a position to concretize climate adaptation options, know what works and what does not to address the impacts of climate change, ensure livelihood benefits from climate adaptation, and share best practices with other parties to UNFCCC. In this program as well, UNDP will provide service charge-based support for capacity enhancement activities. Climate adaptation activities of the USAID-funded Hariyoban Project might also help understand the feasibility of ground level implementation in Nepal.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
LDC fund is helping implement US $7 million GLOF and the Flood Project. For this, UNDP has been designated to function as the GEF Implementing Agency (IA). UNEP and FAO have also been designated as the GEF IA to provide services for the implementation of forestry and agricultural programs as included in NAPA. Each will get 10 percent as fee.
Although Nepal has participated in various international conferences and meetings from 1992 onwards, its influence on climate negotiation remained mostly unchanged in the first phase. Nepal’s voice was heard in the second phase to some extent and it has become increasingly influential in recent years. Nepal’s visibility was enhanced, being a rapporteur for the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and member of the LDC Expert Group from 2008 to 2010. In this period, Nepal has been unanimously elected as the chair of the LDC Coordination Group, a major negotiating bloc of 48 LDCs, for 2013 and 2014.
In August 2012, the government formed the Core Negotiating Team (CNT) for UNFCCC. This CNT concept was developed, proposed and approved by the government in early 2012. The CNT is expected to be engaged, inter alia, in preparing country position paper on new and outstanding issues; negotiating for the benefits of the people, resources and mountains of Nepal; utilizing enhanced capacity and/or knowledge and skill to support the chair of the LDC Coordination Group; and developing capacity to lead some of the thematic areas in climate change negotiations.
The relatively new concept of CNT is likely to foster a culture of making the person liable rather than making international participation the incentive. This will hopefully help develop a mechanism that will promote working in teams, enhance consultation, encourage a deeper thinking process and finally build confidence to influence negotiation. The CNT might also lead to developing and strengthening institutional capacity and/or ‘memory’, and can be developed, strengthened and used as a repository of ‘think-tank’ on climate negotiation. Funding for this should not be a problem. Based on the past few years of experience in acquiring funding, Nepal is expected to continue receiving modest funds for the implementation of the climate change programs.
The author is vice-chair, Least Developed Countries Expert Group to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The views are personal