South Asia Climate Change Strategy

The Strategy of the World Bank

Executive Summary

The Global Challenge

1. The world is facing a prolonged period of planetary surface warming, which is
unparalleled in human history. The scientific consensus holds that this is largely a
consequence of human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). The impacts of higher
temperatures are already being felt and are visible in melting glaciers, rising sea levels, more
frequent storms and extreme weather events. The 1990s was the warmest decade and 2005 the
warmest year on record since 1800. At current trends, scientists predict that the Arctic will be ice
free within 100 years.

2. Climate change has become central to the development and poverty reduction
agenda. Progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as
eradicating poverty, combating communicable diseases, and ensuring environmental
sustainability, could be in jeopardy. The effects of global warming certainly will be unfair and
the impacts will not be evenly distributed across countries. Industrialized countries are
responsible for the vast bulk of past and current greenhouse gas emissions. But the developing
countries and the poorest people will suffer the most from climate change because of unfavorable
geography, limited assets, and a greater dependence on climate-sensitive sources of income. Yet
few developing countries are well adapted to even current climate variations. Climate change is
predicted to increase the variability and frequency of extreme events in ways that are outside the
realm of experience. Some of the impacts could be in the form of new challenges (such as sea
level rise), others could emerge as old threats made more severe by climate change (such as
flooding or drought).

The Strategy and Its Objectives

3. The South Asia Region Climate Change Strategy (SARCCS) articulates the guiding
principles for the World Bank’s climate-related work in the South Asia region (SAR). It
builds upon the World Bank’s Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change that
defines the pillars and priorities to the climate challenge. SARCCS recognizes that uncontrolled
climate change threatens the development prospects of South Asian countries and that there is a
need to develop an approach that addresses specific country risks and needs. Upon identifying
key threats posed by climate change, the strategy explores the broad parameters involved in
devising responses to the climate challenge consistent with the country assistance strategies that
guide government-Bank partnerships. The strategy attempts to enhance the effectiveness of Bank
assistance programs by building climate resilience and promoting sustainable growth. An
effective response calls for adaptation, to address the inevitable; and mitigation, to prevent the

4. Climate policies in South Asia will need to be tailored to risks and country
circumstances. South Asia’s climate is as diverse as its landscape. The region spans a variety of
climate zones, including arid deserts, parched rangelands, freezing alpine mountains, and humid
tropical islands. The projected impacts of climate change will be heterogeneous, suggesting that
there can be no one-size-fits-all approach for building climate resilience across South Asia.

Responses will need to be customized to specific risks. Accordingly the strategy sets out the
broad principles of an evolutionary approach that can be tailored to fit individual circumstances.

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