How Asia Pacific is Building a Climate Resilient Future & Why More Work is Needed

The Asia Pacific region, home to over 60% of the world’s population, holds significance in the global climate discourse due to its demographic density and economic contributions. Given that the region is responsible for over 50% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there is a direct correlation between its development and climate impacts. 

At present, Asia and the Pacific are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. These include extreme weather events, sea level rise, water scarcity, and threatened food security. Climate resilience is paramount, and the mounting evidence of these impacts calls for swift climate action. Nations within the region have responded with innovative efforts to ensure their communities can adapt to, and thrive amidst the changing climate conditions. Here are 5 of such efforts:

Indonesia: Mangrove Conservation

Indonesia’s National Mangrove Program focuses on ecosystem rehabilitation and conservation. Targeting the restoration of 600,000 hectares of degraded mangroves by 2024, this initiative offers dual benefits: strengthening local communities and contributing significantly to global climate action efforts. Healthy mangroves equate to thriving coastal communities, sustainable fisheries, carbon sequestration, and rich biodiversity. 

Philippines: Employing Satellite Data 

In April 2023, the Philippines launched the Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme (CopPhil) as part of its climate adaptation efforts. In partnership with the European Union (EU), this initiative utilises advanced satellite technology to address challenges in disaster mitigation, climate change adaptation, and food security. The continuous surveillance system enhances real-time responses to natural disasters while helping the country to future-proof its strategies, a crucial asset for a country prone to climate-driven calamities. 

India: Disaster Preparedness and Response

India collaborates with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) to implement disaster preparedness and response initiatives. With initiatives spread across over 300 at-risk communities, AKAH employs advanced tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for disaster management, ensuring remote communities have multiple modes of communication during emergencies. AKAH also has a network of over 2,000 volunteers trained in basic disaster risk reduction techniques and a team of engineers and technical experts to conduct vulnerability and risk assessments for physical structures, offering technical assistance for retrofitting and physical mitigation measures. 

Australia: Growing Resilient Crops 

In August 2023, the New South Wales government underscored its commitment to food security and environmental sustainability by establishing the International Centre of Crop and Digital Agriculture. Featuring digital, genetic, agronomy and soil laboratories, this centre helps Australia to grow more resilient crops essential for the feeding of Australians while helping to transform global food security, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience. 

Singapore: Urban Greening 

As part of its measures to mitigate the urban heat island effect, Singapore has undertaken urban greening initiatives to help improve air quality, assist with sustainable water management, and improve biodiversity in the city. Particularly, the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Program transforms water bodies into social hubs that also serve ecological purposes. The transformation of the Kallang channel demonstrates how urban development can be balanced with environmental needs. This focus on urban green spaces has proven invaluable, especially during COVID-19 lockdowns, offering citizens respites in a densely populated city. 

Unfortunately, while these initiatives across the region signal progress, a broader perspective reveals a gap. A majority of countries in the region have historically prioritised climate mitigation over climate adaptation and resilience, despite the latter being crucial for enhancing countries’ capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of climate-related risks. This is evident from the fact that as of March 2023, only 7 out of 39 countries in the Asia Pacific have presented their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). Malaysia, too, only announced in September of this year that it is working on formulating an NAP.

Only 7 out of 39 countries in the Asia Pacific have National Adaptation Plans

Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2023 stands as one of four pivotal Regional Climate Weeks happening this year in the lead up to COP28 in Dubai––which will see the conclusion of the first global stocktake. As we approach this critical assessment, it is essential to gauge our collective progress and ascertain the additional measures required to ensure that our region is on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

APCW 2023 will serve as a platform for the sharing of knowledge and best practices from across the region. Among these discussions will be the pivotal role of NAPs in shaping our collective climate future. We look forward to gathering with climate partners from across the world to explore solutions, unite our visions, and accelerate change for our region. 

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