Policy Provisions and Local Response on Climate Change Adaptation in Nepal

Report / Paper

Policy Provisions and Local Response on Climate Change Adaptation in Nepal

AUTHORS: Dhruba Pant and Kamal Gautam


September 2013

Nepal is widely viewed as highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, both because of its geography – landlocked and mountainous, with rivers fed by the Himalayan glaciers – and because of its socio-economic makeup, with widespread poverty and a mostly rural population. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, with 82.5% of its 23.6 million people living on less than $2 per day.

It has a very climate-sensitive economy: agriculture is the main livelihood for 80% of the population, and tourism is a major source of foreign income (Shrestha and Aryal 2011).Climate change is already measurable, with annual mean temperatures rising by an average of 0.06°C per year, and faster in the highlands, where the glaciers are rapidly melting. Although there is great uncertainty about future impacts, signiἀcant additional warming is predicted, along with changes in precipitation and, as the glaciers melt, uncertainty about water supplies and ᴀood risks (Shrestha and Aryal 2011).

It is thus crucial to gauge vulnerabilities and prepare adaptation plans to address them.Stakeholders at various levels – government, donors, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – are actively working on adaptation policies, programmes and plans. However, the success of their endeavours will depend on how well they meet local communities’ needs, and how well they ἀt with local-level responses. This report aims to shed light on this issue, by exploring how local responses to climate risks and stresses are shaped by externally driven policies, institutions and other conditions (the ‘enabling environment’). The study also explores the relationship between local responses and national and sub-national conditions, which can aḀect the sustainability of local responses.

The goal is to understand whether local responses depend on that enabling environment or could work without it. This would help determine whether there are adaptation ‘best practices’ that can be replicated in diḀerent places with similar conditions, or whether responses must be reinvented each time for each set of local circumstances (and external conditions).This study, conducted between March and July 2011, combined a review of adaptation-relevant policies, strategies and legal frameworks with extensive ἀeld research, including a key informant survey, focus group discussion, and structured interviews using a questionnaire/checklist with government oᰀcials, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local-level stakeholders, and resource user groups (water, forests, etc.). The policy review covered the following items: •    Laws    and    policies    on    community    forestry:    The    Master    Plan    for    the    Forestry    Sector(1989)   and the Forest Act (1993) laid the groundwork for community forestry, the centrepiece    of Nepal’s strategy for sustainable forest utilization and conservation.