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Development and climate change in Nepal: focus on water resources and hydropower

This report presents the integrated case study for Nepal carried out under an OECD project on Development and Climate Change. The report is structured around a three-tier framework. First, recent climate trends and climate change scenarios for Nepal are assessed, and key sectoral impacts are identified and ranked along multiple indicators to establish priorities for adaptation. Second, donor portfolios in Nepal are analysed to examine the proportion of donor activities affected by climate risks. A desk analysis of donor strategies and project documents as well as national plans is conducted to assess the degree of attention to climate change concerns in development planning and assistance. Third, an in-depth analysis is conducted for Nepal’s water resources sector which was identified as most vulnerable to climate change. This part of the analysis also involved stakeholder consultation through an in-country workshop to identify key synergies and conflicts between climate change concerns and sectoral projects and plans.

The integrated analysis reveals that the need for mainstreaming climate change responses in
development planning and assistance is particularly acute for Nepal. Nestled in the Hindukush Himalayas
Other key conclusions include:

  • subjective ranking of key impacts and vulnerabilities in Nepal identifies water resources and hydropower as being of the highest priority in terms of certainty, urgency, and severity of impact, as well as the importance of the resource being affected
  • at the national level meanwhile Nepal has no specific policy documents dealing with climate change – Nepal’s Tenth Development Plan, which has been developed as the country’s PRSP, has poverty reduction as its central focus. Although the plan acknowledges the important influence weather can have on overall economic performance, explicit attention to climate risks is lacking
  • despite discernible impacts that can be related to climate change, Nepal has generally not received
    sufficient attention or funding from international efforts on adaptation to climate change
  • the most critical impacts of climate change in Nepal can be expected to be on its water resources,
    particularly glacial lakes, and its hydropower generation
  • while there is evidence of significant collaboration between donors and the government, a key
    constraint is the capacity of host agencies and institutions – particularly the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology – to field simultaneous multiple and diverse requests from various donors
  • in addition to national discourses on linkages between climate change and development, such discussions might also be needed at a regional level to formulate co-ordinated strategies.