Govt set to establish Think Tank Group on climate change

Published On: February 12, 2020 09:12 AM NPT By: SHREE RAM SUBEDI

Move aimed at securing additional climate change finance and technology 

KATHMANDU, Feb 12: With the emergence of climate change as a key issue at both national and international platforms, the government is mulling over establishing a  "Think-Tank Group"  on climate change. The proposed expert group will provide perennial expertise on the issue of climate change, which largely demands inter-sectoral collaboration and multi-disciplinary knowledge.

"A concept note has been already prepared for the establishment of the group," Dr Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Environment(MoFE), said. "The group will be formed after the cabinet nod."

Besides representatives from the government, the 15-20 member group will comprise independent technical experts,  academicians,  representatives from private and non-government sectors, according to the MoFE.  

"The members will be largely related to eight thematic areas and four inter-sectoral areas defined by the Climate Change Policy 2019,"  Dr Oli explained.

The four inter-sectoral themes include gender and social inclusion, climate finance, research and technology transfer and capacity development while the eight thematic areas covered by the climate change policy include agriculture and food security, forest, water resources, tourism, industry and transport, drinking water and urban settlements.

The proposed group,  through a permanent institutional setup,  will work and advice the government on emerging global climate change agenda, national priorities on climate change. It will also be mandated to take stock of  Nepal's ground-level experience on the issue of climate change. 

"The group will work on promoting dialogue and enhancing understanding on the technical issues in the international climate change negotiations with evidence-based research," said  Dr Krishna Prasad Oli, a member of the National Planning Commission(NPC).

"It is obvious that the climate change issue cannot be dealt with by a single ministry and a particular division,"  NPC member Oli added.

Only a few years ago, the government established a separate climate change management division under the MoFE. The division has been working as a designated authority on climate change, with carrying out the responsibility of formulating policies and programs on climate change, conducting research, preparing report, establishing coordination among different stakeholders and taking action as per Nepal's global commitments. A joint secretary of the government heads the division with 15 staffers.

Nepal is party to the United Nations Framework on Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has ratified the Paris Agreement, adopted during the 21st session of the UNFCCC. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations also demand the governments to work and emphasize climate change issues, across various thematic sectors. 

 At the national level, Nepal Environment Conservation Act 2019, Climate Change Policy 2019, 15th periodic development plan, and other different sectoral policy highlight and demand specific actions on climate change for sustainable development.

Nepal is highly vulnerable to climate change. Though  Nepal's contribution to global greenhouse gas emission is negligible - only 0.027 percent of the global total - Nepal ranks fourth in the global climate risk index of the most vulnerable countries.

It is expected that the think tank group will contribute to securing additional climate change finance and technology for Nepal. 

According to the MoFE, Nepal has already received around 250 million US Dollars under the various climate finance mechanisms including Green Climate Fund (GCF), Global Environment Facility ( GEF) and  Adaptation Fund (AF). Recently,  Nepal secured worth 39.3 million USD funding for a climate change project, namely  Building Resilient Churia Region in Nepal (BRCRN). 

 Nepal is also looking forward to attracting funding through the Paris Agreement on climate change through the fulfillment of the  Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets. With its goals of de-carbonizing economies and improving resilience, Paris Agreement (2015) established the NDC as the primary policy tool for global action for climate change. 

Besides the establishment of the think-tank group on climate change, the government is also establishing a ministry-level coordination committee on climate change under the chairmanship of the secretary at Ministry of Forest and Environment, according to the MoFE.

The main propose of the coordination committee is to facilitate and support the respective ministries to internalize the climate change mitigation and adaptation activities. 

"As there are three tires of government working on climate change sector,  it is crucial to internalize the mitigation and adaptation activities both vertically and horizontally," said Dr Maheshwar Dhakal, chief of Climate Change Management Division under the MoFE.

On April 2-4, the government is hosting the Sagarmatha Sambad with a theme of “Climate Change, Mountains and the Future of Humanity".  The first edition of the global dialogue is expected to draw global leaders, including high-level delegates from various countries along with scholars, experts, business leaders, civil society activists and media. 

The April event on climate change is expected to contribute to further strengthening a multi-stakeholder approach on addressing climate change with renewed political will, new initiatives and investments, and collaborations at the regional and global levels.

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