Strengthening responses to climate variability in South Asia

Executive summary

This executive summary is based on the findings from desk and field research conducted by International Alert and the South Asia Network for Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) in nine sub-national locations across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

The research looks at the root causes of vulnerability and non-adaptation in fragile contexts and at the opportunities for strengthening resilience to combined risks of climate change and conflict. National governments, donor agencies, development organisations and the private sector are increasingly concerned with the impacts of climate change in fragile contexts. However, the academic literature on climate change and security is still characterised by the drive to establish or refute direct causality between climate change and conflict as two independent variables. Little attention is given to the complex reasons why climate change makes it harder for states to deal with the various drivers which underlie conflict, or to forms of insecurity other than the incidence of armed conflict.

The research takes “local resilience” as the starting point to understand the linkages between climate change impacts and insecurity, and the interaction of environmental risks with pre-existing stresses faced at the household and village level.1

Climate change impacts will inevitably be experienced at the local level and, as a result, responses which address these local impacts will be the most effective. However, a large majority of policies on adaptation are made at the capital city or headquarters level. Furthermore, there is little empirical evidence of local-level experiences of climate change, taking into account existing peace and security challenges faced in fragile contexts, available to inform top-down approaches.