New programme to adapt to climate change in Salween-Mekong basin

Drought has become increasingly frequent in the Salween-Mekong basin that covers China and many countries in South East Asia. The area is now going to see a four-year (2012–2015) programme that will link climate scenarios with issues of water availability and demand, ecosystem services, food security, and people’s vulnerability and adaptation, with particular attention to the role of women and gender.
The programme was launched at a recent workshop in Kunming, jointly organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
The collaborative programme will aim to fill knowledge gaps and, on the basis of the scientific evidence gathered, to make concrete proposals for enhancing people’s adaptation to climate change through policies and practices. It will have a particular focus on women’s adaptation, as women and men often suffer the impacts of climate change in different ways, and women tend to be less represented in policy and decision making. Water availability, which is now a crucial underlying issue in the area, affects women far more than men.
This programme will bring together scientists from a broad range of disciplines that will encourage cross-cutting policy actions to address climate change impacts and responses. Physical and social scientists present at the workshop covered areas as diverse as hydrology, disaster risk reduction, ecology, biodiversity, botany, ethnobotany, fisheries, gender, sociology, migration, economics, valuation of ecosystem services, community forestry, and agroforestry.
The programme will have experts from notable institutions in Yunnan Province and across China, as well as ICIMOD subject specialists and invited experts from elsewhere in the Himalayan region and beyond.
“The overall objective of the adaptation programme is to work together to come up with new data, research findings, and strategies to strengthen planned as well as autonomous adaptation to climate change, both at community and policy levels,” said Eklabya Sharma, director of programme operations, ICIMOD. “The four year roadmap drafted by the workshop will provide a solid basis for the implementation of this collaborative, integrative, and policy-relevant programme.”