Climate Change: Regional Key Risks For Asia
In urban areas specially, there will need to be a reduction in the vulnerability of lifeline infrastructure and services, which if damaged by floods will lead to complete cut-down of supplies and essentials to an ever-growing, demanding population
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The regional key risks for Asia mainly affect the physical, human and managed systems, with no key risks for the biological systems. With high risks in the long term for water systems like rivers, likelihood of droughts, coastal ecosystems etc, the other key risks include the impact on food production, and on health and livelihood. Through the risk on the hydrological system in Asia, there is a definite threat of increase riverine, coastal and urban flooding in places in India which are close to water bodies, which may victims of the widespread destruction of livelihood, infrastructure, and settlements. Particularly crowded metropolitans like Mumbai and Chennai which are on the coast will have to actively prepare for mitigation strategies, due to the large exposed, poor population it is home to, which will be most vulnerable to these ecological changes.
Agricultural disruptions in the Northern Indo-Gangetic plains are also very likely due to this risk. In order to reduce these risks and mitigate them, there will have to be a reduction in exposure of these systems to climatic changes, by instituting structural and non-structural measures such as effective land-use planning and selective relocation, but not to the extent that there is large-scale rehabilitation and relocation of vulnerable population, like during the Narmada Bachao movement. In urban areas specially, there will need to be a reduction in the vulnerability of lifeline infrastructure and services, which if damaged by floods will lead to complete cut-down of supplies and essentials to an ever-growing, demanding population. Proper monitoring systems and early warning signals should be built which not help identify vulnerable and exposed regions, but also help assist these vulnerable areas and diversify their livelihoods, so they can sustain themselves despite the loss of primary livelihood.
There is also an increased risk due to heat-related mortality in Asia, which might again have negative health implications in land-locked regions in India such as Bhopal or Delhi, which are already scathingly hot during the summers. It may also cause loss in productivity in agriculture for regions in India, especially those crops which are more conducive to cooler climates, like the rabi crops. The potential for reducing this risk lies in the investment in heat health warning systems, effective urban planning and heat dissipation technology to deal with high temperatures. New work practices which help workers adapt to heat-related stress may also be helpful in reducing heat-related mortality risks.
Lastly, there is a risk of drought-related water and food shortage which may lead to malnutrition in Asia. This is particularly going to impact India, which is already above Sub-Saharan African regions in the indicators of child-malnutrition and food insecurity in certain regions and demographics, like North-east India. Central India which is landlocked and agricultural intensive will see a lot of productivity loss and human loss, as water sources are also minimal. Urban areas in India where poverty is high will have to institute safety net measures to ensure the poor who will be most vulnerable to these food and water supply shocks. In order to cope with this likely food shortage risk, disaster preparedness will be the key, and food supplies will have to be stocked and stored for use during emergency times.
Local coping strategies which help supply food will also be effective in reducing the risks, along with early warning systems. For reducing water shortage risks, there will be a conscious need to shift to adaptive and integrated water resource management, water infrastructure and reservoir development, diversification of water sources including water-reuse and an efficient use of water in agriculture. Through economic tools and pricing, efficient and managed use of water resources will help reduce the risk of water shortage in the future.