More than 250 decision and policy-makers from governmental and non-governmental institutions, academia, and multilateral development banks working in the field of climate change attended the Central Asia Climate Change Conference, organised by PRISE country research partner the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), in Almaty, Kazakhstan on January 24 to 25.
The Central Asia Climate Change Conference aimed to foster regional dialogue, knowledge and information exchange on adaption to climate change, by exploring opportunities for joint actions between international, regional and national stakeholders to build a common vision towards a climate resilient future. The Conference aimed to reach the following three main objectives:
- Inform – inform decision makers, decision influencers, practitioners and other stakeholders about the latest global climate change discussions and trends amid the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post- 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP23) discussions, while focusing on the implications of these developments for Central Asia. These efforts align with the PRISE geographical approach to simultaneously achieving multiple SDGs in semi-arid regions that share common environmental and socio-economic issues.
- Present – present examples of good practice, lessons learnt, research findings, innovative climate-resilient technology and climate finance opportunities, which prove to be sustainable and effective at regional and global scale. Evidence from PRISE project 2 on ‘Migration, remittances, adaptation and resilience to climate change in arid and semi-arid regions of Senegal and Tajikistan’ was among the regional case studies presented. The findings of this study were shared with participants in the session “Bringing gender into climate change adaptation”, which led to a vibrant discussion. Many of participants agreed on the importance of mainstreaming the gender dimension and the development of a set of gender indicators from the initial stage of the project’s implementation. Furthermore, representatives from Tajik Civil Society Organisations have highlighted that investing in girls’ education in Tajikistan is the key to building climate resilience and adaptive capacity, which supports the finding of the PRISE Gender Case Study.
- Explore – explore opportunities to strengthen synergies in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda through multi-stakeholder regional partnerships to achieve the Global Climate Action Agenda. Pursuing climate action and sustainable development in an integrated and coherent way offers the strongest approach to enable countries to achieve their objectives efficiently and quickly under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this regard, several active regional development partners including the Executive Committee of the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (EC-IFAS), the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, and the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation, stood ready to join efforts in signalling to all levels of government, business and civil society in Central Asia that urgent climate action and sustainable development are common goals.
The Conference was divided into five Plenary Sessions on:
- Climate Policy and National Actions
- Science and Climate Research
- Best Climate-Resilient Practices and Technologies
- Finance for Climate Adaptation
- Climate Information Services.
The Conference programme also included parallel thematic sessions on issues including sustainable economic development in a changing climate, gender, innovative approaches to adaptation and the mitigation of climate change.
PRISE leading debate at the Conference
Dr. Imran Saqib Khalid, Research Fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and PRISE Research Fellow, moderated a Session on ‘Sustainable Economic Development in light of climate change: recommendations from the existing regional and local initiatives’.
This highlighted the role of climate change-related local initiatives in the sustainable development of the Central Asian region. Speakers brought examples of various national projects, such as environmental land management and rural livelihoods, developing the climate resilience of farming communities in drought-prone parts of Uzbekistan and a number of other case studies. These examples clearly illustrated that local communities provide the initiative, the innovation and the direction for climate-resilient and sustainable development of a country.
Ms. Zhanna Babagaliyeva, CCSE programme specialist at CAREC presented PRISE Project 2: ‘Migration, remittances, adaptation and resilience to climate change in arid and semi-arid regions of Senegal and Tajikistan’ during Parallel Session 2 on gender and climate change adaptation. She highlighted results of the Gender Case Study prepared within the framework of project 2. The key research question in the case study is: ‘What is the gender dimension in migration-related processes, and how does it contribute to climate-resilient development in Tajikistan?’
The results of the gender case study showed that women are more likely than men to accept climate change. This is in particularly evident in Tajikistan, where male migration is very high. In these cases, many women must take over household responsibilities traditionally taken on by men, such as water and agriculture management – which are two main socio-economic development sectors, and account for a large part of income generation (in addition to remittances) in rural areas.
Based on research in Gender Case Study, the following recommendations were made during Parallel Session 2:
- Education – Women need basic knowledge on climate change issues and adaptation measures. It is recommended to encourage women to spend more time and money on education (especially higher and technical) equally for girls and boys through training, master classes, and outreach, and showcase that investments to education will pay off as human capital is a prerequisite of sustainable development. In this case, government can support and motivate women to invest more into the education of their children, by developing special grants programmes on a partial or full basis, especially for the most vulnerable families.
- Cooperation/collective action (communities) – PRISE recommends that the government could support collective actions for farmers’ associations, women’s collectives, migrant diaspora and other groups, to reduce the risks and consequences of climate change. For example, this could be done through the government constructing equipment to protect communities from disasters such as a dam to protect people from mud flows; joint problem-solving between local authorities and communities after these disasters; and experience/knowledge exchanges between farmers, women leading household management, and migrants on the best agricultural practices to combat climate change consequences. Women in rural areas have the potential to be pioneering agents in initiating such actions, especially in areas where labour migration is critically high. These actions could also be supported by local authorities.
- Governmental support – There is need for government support for infrastructure activities, capacity building, and reducing vulnerability by financing and developing special programmes that encourage women to participate more actively in increasing climate resilience, especially in rural areas.
- Financial management – If people in rural communities are trained in basic knowledge on financial management, this would improve the ways in which remittances are used. PRISE recommends that stakeholders who can provide information on financial management, such as budget management, and proper investments, should provide training for the local population. However, to determine women’s needs, additional research is required. We recommend that the government develop a programme on capacity building in financial/budget management, so that vulnerable communities dependent on remittances can access knowledge on ways to properly invest remittances in order to spur climate-resilient economic development.
A document with key messages and takeaways was produced based on the results of the conference discussions. It addresses the objectives set in the Concept Note and provides groundwork for the next Central Asia Climate Change Conference.
Image: Opening Speeches. Mr. Olzhas Agabekov, Director of the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Energy Republic of Republic of Kazakhstan (on the left) and Mr. Guich Abaev, Head of the Information and Analytical Department of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (on the right). January 24, 2018 – © CAREC