There is a need for transboundary cooperation when dealing with climate change impacts because the impacts of climate change can sweep across regions, irrespective of national boundaries.
Also, Asia as a continent is transboundary, sharing the benefits from their natural resources, ecosystems, economic and social trades, human movement and migration.
Teleconnection is mentioned in the paper as a factor or phenomenon shared between regions.
A study defines it as referring to climate variability links between non-contiguous geographic regions (Science direct, 2015).
Another scientific site describes it as ‘changes in the atmosphere in one place can affect the weather over 1000 miles away. One example is the El Nino phenomenon (Scied. UCAR, 2008).
The paper entitled Transboundary Impacts of Climate Change in Asia: Making a Case for Regional Adaptation Planning and Cooperation examines Asia’s transboundary nature and climate change’s impacts.
The paper discussed the following points:
- Climate change impacts across borders: biophysical, such as transboundary rivers, water bodies, glaciers, wetlands, forests and migratory species; trade; people; and finance.
- Alterations in temperature, air currents, ocean systems, and hydrological flows can cause large-scale disaster events across the regions.
- Climate change impacts teleconnection, which can result in serious climate threats if not understood and addressed efficiently by individual countries.
- There is insufficient knowledge of climate impacts on transboundary natural resources and teleconnection.
- The National Adaptation Planning (NAP) processes of each country are unaware of climate change impacts on sub-regional and regional teleconnections means insufficiency of adaptation measures.
- There are severe gaps in the governance of shared resources; a lack of estimates on the extent to which countries are benefitting from these shared resources.
The paper also discussed the Benefits of Transboundary cooperation in dealing with climate change:
- Opportunities to pool expertise, knowledge, and experiences. Countries benefit from resource-sharing and a more defined collaboration framework for countries facing similar challenges.
- Minimizing trade-offs from individual country’s efforts to deal with climate change
- Pool financial and technical resources
- Access to international funding and technical resources in a more coordinated manner
- Complement the Paris agreement through a joint regional stocktaking process.
Challenges to transboundary cooperation among Asian countries
The following are the challenges that were discussed in the paper:
- No formal agreements on mechanisms for regional collaboration for climate change adaptation, although the need is getting stronger.
- Differences in national priorities and geopolitical interests in the region.
- Climate change needs to be addressed as a regional issue while national adaptation planning (NAP) is still in a transitionary stage.
Some positive developments in Asia’s transboundary cooperation
Despite the challenges, positive results are going on that foster transboundary collaboration in Asia.
For instance, a bilateral agreement on water resources problems exists between India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Pakistan, and Nepal. Also, the need for coordinated risk management between China, Nepal, and India has been recognized.
Regional organizations like the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) have identified six transboundary landscapes that border the Himalayan ranges stretching as far as the northern border of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. This program aims at enhancing the socio-ecological resilience to environmental change that encompasses these regions.
What are the gaps that need to be addressed?
The paper has identified some gaps that need to be addressed in strengthening existing and emerging transboundary agreements between Asia,
- A need for transboundary cooperation in the Himalayan region, particularly the sharing of scientific knowledge, information and technology.
- The changing topology of extreme events that are increasingly happening across borders and disasters, especially in upstream and downstream directions, must be addressed.
- Long-term issues with resources that are ‘shifting’ or unstable, like water, agriculture, and biodiversity. A transfer of technologies and innovations to improve managing resources like water and climate-resistant is an option.
- Social concerns like the migration of people affected by climate change are looking for opportunities in another region.
- A regional conflict mechanism to avoid possible conflicts over land and resources when it happens.
Climate change actions and reflections
Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects everyone. The most vulnerable are those countries or areas that are more exposed to the impacts of sea-level rises, such as those living along the coasts, delta regions, and low-lying regions. Also, the developing countries with inadequate mitigation and adaptation measures will suffer.
The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 has identified the Asia-Pacific region as facing a daunting spectrum of natural hazards and disasters, both rapid and slow-onset climate change consequences.
A call for urgent action to prepare and mitigate climate change has never been prevalent and enthusiastic from environmentalists and global leaders alike.
International funding institutions are also stepping up to meet the challenge, extending funding and support to the most vulnerable countries to climate change.
These ongoing developments can complement the transboundary cooperation in Asia and promote unity among the regions facing common challenges and threats.
The entire report can be read by clicking on the image below:
Nigam, S. & Baxter, S. (2015). General Circulation of the Atmosphere [Synopsis]. In Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/teleconnection
Prabhakar, S.V.R.K., B.R. Shivakoti and A.F. Corral. (2018, October). Transboundary Impacts of Climate Change in Asia: Making a Case for Regional Adaptation Planning and Cooperation. IGES Discussion Paper. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and Global Development Network: Hayama, Japan. Retrieved from https://iges.or.jp/en/publication_documents/pub/discussionpaper/en/6580/IGES-GDN+Discussion+Paper_Final+12102018.pdf
Teleconnections: Changes in Weather Linked Together (2008). Retrieved from https://scied.ucar.edu/teleconnections-changes-weather-linked-together
PHOTO CREDIT: The featured image used in this post is a composite photo of the following: