The main goal of the project is to enhance higher education and research capacity related to climate change, natural resource management and environment in a coordinated network of four universities in South Asia. We wish to give continuity and ensure long-term collaboration created by NUFU/NOMA funded projects (2007/10109; 2010/10037) with expansion to Bhutan to further internationalize the projects addressing global change related issues.
Main partner: Kathmandu University (Nepal)
Noragric project coordinator: Prof. Bishal Sitaula,
Other Noragric staff involved: Prof. Pål Vedeld and Dr. Gry Synnevåg
Project Partners: Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University (Nepal); Karakoram International University (Pakistan); Ministry of Education/Royal University of Bhutan; and Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway)
Funded by: NORHED programme, Norad.
Project period: 2013-2018
Other NORHED projects at NMBU
The present project builds upon lessons learned from partner experiences of past NUFU/NOMA projects in the Himalayan region and further extending collaboration to Bhutan, which has very similar terrain and socioeconomic situation as in Nepal and Pakistan. The project is designed to address the priorities and needs of the partner countries as stated below.
The prevailing unsustainable practices and approach to development activities worldwide, and the increasing contribution of developing countries, particularly in South Asia, impacts on the natural resource base and environment have led to global-scale changes such as trans-boundary water issues, long range transport of pollution, deforestation and the ever-intensifying consequences of climate change.
What is clearly needed is a transformation of attitudes leading to sustainable and environmentally sound approaches to socioeconomic development, which do not deplete the natural resource base or destroy our natural environment. The medium of effecting attitude transformation and ultimately achieving sustainable development is through education. The education system in developing countries should bring about a widespread public awareness and sensitization to the key issues and problems of achieving sustainable development and adapting to/mitigating climate change. This has to be tackled at the level of higher education to produce a technically trained and qualified work force to influence the national policies in all related sectors (energy, agriculture, forestry, water resources, etc.) to deal with the above issues.
South Asia is particularly vulnerable to Climate Change. Global disaster data confirms that the region is probably the most critical hotspot of disaster in the world today due to its geophysical and hydro climatic characteristics (World Bank 2010). Furthermore, atmospheric warming of 10C observed in the Himalayan region over the past thirty years has led to a considerable reduction in glacier area and glaciers are receding faster than in any other part of the world (IPCC 2007a). Along with the loss of glaciers, climate change may have significant negative impacts on the vulnerable climate-dependent communities particularly, the rural poor, women and marginalized groups in developing countries. There are, however, not many micro-level case studies of highly vulnerable communities with low adaptive capacity (Dabi et al., 2008).
Nepal’s contribution to the global GHG emissions is negligible, however, negative effects of climate change on natural resources, such as, water, forests, land and biodiversity in Nepal are significant due to its fragile economic and environmental base. Analysis of climatic data from 1977 to 1994 showed that, the average temperature in Nepal increased by 0.06 degrees Celsius annually (Ebi et al., 2007; Shrestha et al., 1999). The warming has been higher in the high mountain areas compared to the global average over the last 100 years (Du et al., 2004; IPCC, 2007b). The changing precipitation patterns, warming, and glacier recession are providing a new identity to the mountain regions as a climate change hotspot and these changes have potentially serious consequences for mountain ecosystems and people, as well as for the downstream regions (Macchi, 2011; Shrestha et al., 2000). Limited knowledge and information is available on how specific climate hazards are impacting the livelihoods resources, how climate change is impacting on different wellbeing groups and how poor people, women and marganilized communities in the rural area of Nepal are responding to the climate changes. The analysis of differential impacts of climate change is very important to study in the complex society of Nepal where poverty exists extensively based on the rural–urban, geographical, gender, and caste/ethnic divisions (Murshed and Gates, 2005).
Although limited research has been conducted in the region, studies indicate that land use and management significantly influence the rates of GHG (Awasthi et al., 2005; Shrestha et al., 2004; Sitaula et al., 2004; Raut et al., 2012) emissions, as well as, as SOC stocks (Bajracharya et al., 2004; Shrestha et al., 2007). Likewise, studies indicate that there is potential to capture atmospheric carbon and sequester it in terrestrial biomass and soils under appropriate management (Bajracharya and Atreya, 2007; Dahal and Bajracharya, 2011).
The primary target groups are Higher education institutions in South Asia, faculty members, administrative/support staff, and graduate students, particularly focusing on women, climate change vulnerable groups and marginalized groups capacity enhancement.
The secondary target groups are government agencies and local communities (through action research)