Decision makers to debate climate threats in Southeast Asia

31 October, 2013 by (comments)

Leading decision makers and researchers from Southeast Asia will meet in Vietnam to debate how future climate, environmental, political and socio-economic factors could impact food security across the region.

Experts will gather at the workshop from November 5-7, in Halong City, Vietnam, entitled: “Scenarios for Future Food Security, Environments and Livelihoods in Southeast Asia.” Currently targeting Cambodia, Lao and Vietnam, the initial phase of this global project will document changing factors likely to impact food security and increase vulnerability to climate change, with the intention of testing out future policy responses.

“When we think about climate change, we usually think about the weather – predictions based on how hot or cold the temperature will be,” said Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, CCAFS Regional Program Leader for Southeast Asia. “This workshop will try to capture the complex socio-cultural, economic undercurrent of factors – markets, governance, economic and infrastructure developments – in the region that will be crucial for food security and will also be impacted by climate change.”

© Neil Palmer / CIAT

© Neil Palmer / CIAT

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), led by CIAT, is hosting the workshop with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture (EPIC) Project and the United Nations Environment Programme among other partners, using a set of climate scenarios projected to 2050 to capture different trajectories of socio-economic change.

Dr Joost Vervoort, Scenarios Officer for CCAFS, said: “This workshop will drive discussions around what happens in a world where complex factors – domestic and export market forces, political stability, social inequality, even national relationships – collide with climate change impacts, and what that could mean for future policy decisions around agriculture and food security in Southeast Asia.”

“We are not trying to get participants to predict the future,” He added. “The aim is to build a flexible process to generate content that is plausible and relevant to decision-makers, referencing economic analyses, market dynamics and quantitative results, to respond to a highly uncertain future.”

The process has already taken place in East and West Africa, where projections have taken into account population and economic growth stimulating demand for meat, in turn driving livestock markets, further economic growth – and implicit environmental impacts.

Dr Rathana Peou, South East Asia Regional Scenarios Coordinator for CCAFS, said: “Southeast Asia is highly vulnerable to climate change both in terms of disasters and population intensity. The region contains major rice bowls – The Mekong River and Red River Deltas – at risk of sea level rises, and the world’s second largest area of rainforest after the Amazon Basin, already under threat from more extreme weather events.

“Many countries have integrated climate change as a national priority. But national action plans for adaptation will be key, together with a regional understanding of the vulnerability and risks,” she added.

Dr. Le Huy Ham, Director General of the Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Genetics, welcomed this effort and said it addresses an urgent food security issue. In Vietnam, under the scenario of a 3°C rise in global temperatures, roughly 10% of the country’s agricultural coastland will be lost, impacting the lives of more than 20 million people, he said.

“The challenge in this region is to reduce greenhouse gasses, especially methane from rice production systems, while boosting food production to feed a growing population on less land, with increased vulnerability to flooding, water salinity and increased biotic and abiotic stresses,” he said.

Addressing the potential impacts of climate change using the practical and long term scenarios method is intended to raise awareness among key stakeholders and policy makers and stimulate policy dialogue and investment in both the private and public sectors. These proposals will generate specific entry points for wider CCAFS research and scientific support, and guide adaptation policy in the region.

 

For more information contact Georgina Smith: g.smith[at]cgiar.org

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