Climate change has already had a significant impact across South Asia and will continue to affect the region at an even higher rate in the coming decades, said experts at a recent webinar hosted by the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at QF partner Georgetown University in Qatar.
The public panel discussion titled “The Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture in South Asia” was part of the Environmental Studies research focus at CIRS, which brings together Qatar-based and international scholars to address central questions related to climate change, the politics of natural resources, food security, water conflict, and other issues of environmental concern.
The discussion featured economist Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow at The Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a policy research institute and think tank based in Delhi, India, and Professor N.H. Ravindranath from the Center for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.
The scholars presented an overview of the main threats posed by climate change to Indian and South Asian agriculture, namely its impact on food productivity, food security and public health. They also highlighted extreme climate events such as floods, cyclones, and droughts that have a cascading geopolitical effect beyond agriculture, as the top concerns.
The event was moderated by GU-Q Professor Anatol Lieven, who emphasized the importance of studying the impact of climate change in a nation with nearly a fifth of the world’s population, saying: “India is both one of the most important emitters of carbon gases, and the fastest growing; and South Asia is among the areas of the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, because of a mixture of already high temperatures, existing water shortages, and high population.”
The panelists also discussed necessary agricultural policy interventions, efforts to reduce carbon emissions, lessons of the pandemic on the climate crisis, and the political issues impeding regional cooperation on climate change. The panelists stressed the need for further research rooted in multidisciplinary approaches to address South Asia’s growing complexity of environmental problems.
The Environmental Studies research cluster at CIRS was launched earlier this year with a moderated discussion titled “A New Political Strategy to Limit Climate Change” based on Dr. Lieven’s book, Climate Change and the Nation State: The Realist Case. Through this thematic focus, CIRS considers projects that examine the Middle East in comparison to other regions, or that pursue cross-national understandings of environmental issues with the aim of translating this knowledge into practice through targeted outreach to entities that support a safer and sustainable future.