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Strengthening responses to climate variability in South Asia

This executive summary is based on the findings from desk and field research conducted by International Alert and the South Asia Network for Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) in nine sub-national locations across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The research looks at the root causes of vulnerability and non-adaptation in fragile contexts and at the opportunities for strengthening resilience to combined risks of climate change and conflict. The academic literature on climate change and security is still characterised by the drive to establish or refute direct causality between climate change and conflict as two independent variables. Little attention is given to the complex reasons why climate change makes it harder for states to deal with the various drivers which underlie conflict, or to forms of insecurity other than the incidence of armed conflict.

The research takes “local resilience” as the starting point to understand the linkages between climate change impacts and insecurity, and the interaction of environmental risks with pre-existing stresses faced at the household and village level.

Findings from the case study research in nine sub-national locations across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan suggest that:

  • supporting adaptation cannot be targeted on specific actions responding to specific threats;
  • supporting adaptation means supporting resilience, which is part of how communities develop; and
  • supporting the capacity to adapt properly will go far beyond supporting technical adaptation activities and will become part of the fabric of development aid.