The CAREC Institute, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), hosted the fourth Chai event to discuss the results of the Scoping Study on Climate Change in the CAREC Region commissioned by the CAREC secretariat, main climate change challenges the region faces, and required policy actions.
Dr. Lyaziza Sabyrova, Director of the Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division of the ADB, warmly welcomed the participants of the event and introduced the ADB consultant team who conducted the Scoping Study. She noted that this study is a crucial resource for understanding the current situation in the CAREC region from a climate perspective and the risks for the region, identifying opportunities, and developing the necessary strategies and actions to address climate change. The Scoping Study highlights the need to take immediate action to reduce the risks and maximize opportunities associated with climate change.
Mr. Kabir Jurazoda, Director of the CAREC Institute, in his opening remarks noted that the Central Asian region is becoming a global hotspot for long-term climate trends, experiencing devastating floods, severe droughts and excessive heat. These long-term challenges and threats highlight the critical need for urgent and effective actions to address climate change issues in the CAREC region and ensure the wellbeing of its people. He underlined that the CAREC Institute, as a knowledge hub, regards climate change as one of its key areas of research and capacity building, helping the countries to develop and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies. In 2022, the CAREC Institute held two climate change dialogues with national experts and representatives of international and regional organizations that helped to increase interaction between the major stakeholders and understanding of climate challenges in the region, as well as to define potential ways to unlock comprehensive regional actions. The institute has already conducted research that highlights the exposure of the CAREC economies to the impacts of climate change and helps understand the opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the potential for regional cooperation.
The results of the Scoping Study were presented by a team of consultants led by Dr. Johannes Linn. The study had three objectives: i) to define how the CAREC Program can intensify its support for regional actions to respond to climate change, ii) to develop a systematic and strategic approach by the CAREC Program to the climate agenda in the region, and iii) to provide a reference document on climate issues in the CAREC region. The report analyses three important policy dimensions — the national climate commitments and strategies for each of the 11 CAREC countries; financing requirements and potentials; and the scope and existing institutional platforms for regional action. Dr. Linn noted that CAREC has a unique and urgent opportunity to set a course for proactive, systematic and strategic engagement on climate change by developing a range of regional actions in response to the regional nature of many climate change impacts and solutions and supporting its member countries in reinforcing, modifying and implementing existing strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The consultants suggest incorporating climate change as an urgent crosscutting issue in the CAREC Strategy, adopt a CAREC Climate Change Strategy, and establish a senior-level Steering Committee for climate change to develop a road map for own climate change projects and targeted climate mitigation and adaptation components, and the participation in projects of others.
Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev, Deputy Director Two of the CAREC Institute, spoke about the water and climate problems in Central Asia and the prospects for regional cooperation based on the findings of the latest reports published by the CAREC Institute − 1) Climate Vulnerability, Infrastructure, Finance and Governance in CAREC Region, and 3) Water-Agriculture-Energy Nexus in Central Asia Through the Lens of Climate Change. The countries of Central Asia have experienced much higher rates of temperature rise compared to the global average over the past hundred years. The region has seen an increase in the frequency of adverse natural disasters of a wide range. The magnitude of future temperature increases and changes in precipitation patterns in the region is likely to exceed observed historical changes. Climate change in the region will cause significant changes in annual volume and seasonal patterns of reivers’ run-off. In this regard, Dr. Abdullaev suggested focusing on addressing the economic issues of climate change by prioritizing investment strategies, providing financial tools and mechanisms, and developing necessary adaptation and mitigation mechanisms to reduce the environmental impacts and the vulnerability of the population, especially in rural areas. Countries need to improve water use efficiency, establish early warning systems for extreme climate events, implement no-till technologies and crop diversification, and improve crop management.
Professor Dechong Huang from Hohai University presented proposals for the development of water, energy and food cooperation between China and the countries of Central Asia under climate change. Countries can start by coordinating the development planning and strategies on the water-energy-food nexus in Central Asia and create a joint platform for data exchange. For industrial development, countries need to stabilize the water, energy and food supply chains, as well as the production chain. In order to nurture talent, countries need to conduct joint research on the water-energy-food nexus and develop professional skills and technologies and promote the application and transformation of scientific and technological achievements. Most importantly, countries can jointly ensure investment in the water-energy-food nexus in Central Asia and share knowledge and policy practices.
Dr. Kamalbek Karymshakov, Vice-Rector of the Kyrgyz Turkish Manas University, and Dr. Dina Azhgaliyeva, Research Fellow at the ADBI, presented the results of a recent study on climate change and household energy consumption in the CAREC region. The study found that households whose incomes declined in the two years following COVID-19 consume more biomass in rural areas and electricity in cities instead of coal. The authors recommend promoting the development of natural gas and LPG infrastructure and reducing the consumption of solid fuels, while increasing the price of electricity should be carried out with caution due to the possibility of switching to coal consumption by households, especially from vulnerable groups.