The 5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum has kicked off in Colombo on 17th of October and this forum is predicted to bring together an estimated of 800 national delegates, 500 scientists, and over 1,00,000 public participants for the 3 day event which ends on October 20. This forum will, in its sessions, focus on a number of climate change adaptation issues which will cover a range of financial, developmental, political and social aspects of adapting to changing climatic conditions.

A strong participation of the scientific community in the forum is definitely an encouraging news amidst the global political and economic debates going on about even whether climate science is a real thing. The forum will involve scientists and science fellows from the South Asian region as well as many from other parts of the world as resource persons and participants. Such forums bring together scientists and policy makers that can certainly be helpful in formulating more science backed and effective climate change adaptation policies in the region.

With a consensus of more than 97% of world’s climate scientists on the fact of anthropogenic climate change being real, their participation in climate change forums and negotiations like these is important if significant outcomes are to be expected.

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Eranga Galappaththi, a climate change adaptation worker and scientist in Canada, is one of the participants in the conference

According to Eranga Galappaththi, a scientist and climate change worker in Canada and a participant in the forum, scientists can use such forums to share the valuable information that they have acquired from various researches that can be useful to guide national and international policies and also can get a number of new ideas that can guide their own future researches.

Adaptation to climate change is an ongoing process and it will demand different and innovative strategies in years to come is even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut off significantly. Not all countries in the world are affected the same by climate change and not all of them respond to the changes in a similar way. This situation demands researchers to act at a more local level to come up with region specific strategies to cope with the changes. This makes climate scientists some of the most important stakeholders in national policy formulation and climate negotiations.

But situation for scientists and the recommendations they make aren’t always plain sailing. Galappaththi stated of his experience of facing a number of political hurdles in recommending climate change adaptation strategies in national policies, the situation being worse in developing countries. With the focus on national level adaptation policies being stressed in almost every climate talk, researches focusing on issues as important as local climate change adaptation strategies as well as their implementation being guided by political interests is certainly unfortunate.

The South Asian region with some of the most vulnerable countries to effects of climate change and fragile ecosystems has high hopes with this conference. With effects of climate change being already evident in the region with increasing number of climatic ills like floods, landslides, late arriving monsoons and prolonged droughts, issues like climate change need to transcend political barriers to make such negotiations actually effective.

Sanam Parajuli

About Sanam Parajuli