According to the forecasts of environmental and climate experts, air temperature will continue to increase in the country, while the redistribution of precipitations throughout the entire Central Asian region might lead to drainage of natural reservoirs, and to floods and landslides in areas previously not prone to such phenomena.In this regard, it is important not only to prepare the population and the economic sectors of Kyrgyzstan for the probability of natural disasters, but also to create conditions to ensure the continuity of the country’s sustainable development.
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In December 2019, the Kyrgyz Republic ratified the Paris Agreement, thereby making the commitment to undertaking measures against global warming, and to enhancing the country’s adaptive capacity to climate change. Adaptation involves taking measures to anticipate the adverse effects of climate change, and to prevent or minimize the damage they entail by increasing the resilience of communities, businesses, and infrastructure. Adaptation can also aim at taking advantage of opportunities that may arise as a consequence of climate change.
The urgent need for adaptation in Kyrgyzstan
The Agency for Hydrometeorology of the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzhydromet) has been observing the effects of climate change on the country’s ecosystems for several decades. Abnormal changes in average air temperatures and varying precipitation volumes have been noted in all regions of Kyrgyzstan. According to the forecasts of environmental and climate expert Zoya Kretova, air temperature will continue to increase in the country, while the redistribution of precipitations throughout the entire Central Asian region might lead to drainage of natural reservoirs, and to floods and landslides in areas previously not prone to such phenomena. Increases or decreases in precipitation volumes in certain areas of Kyrgyzstan will lead to growing risks of dangerous natural phenomena such as drought, landslides, mudflows, floods, and avalanches.
In this regard, it is important not only to prepare the population and the economic sectors of Kyrgyzstan for the probability of natural disasters, but also to create conditions to ensure the continuity of the country’s sustainable development. The elaboration and implementation of a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) in the Kyrgyz Republic is therefore a strategic objective with specific prerequisites: a clearly defined legislative framework defining, inter alia, a state budget and the responsible executive bodies.
Precursor initiatives for a national adaptation strategy
Kyrgyzstan is lagging behind other CIS countries and the Central Asian region in the development of national and sectoral plans for adaptation to climate change. Nevertheless, initiatives are being promoted and action has been taken, that contribute to the fulfillment of some stages of the NAP process as described in the UNFCCC methodology, in particular the collection of information on climate change effects on the country, and the identification of possible adaptation measures at the sectoral level.
In November 2019, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic adopted the Green Economy Development Program for 2019-2023, which sets out priorities for sustainable development and defines specific goals, that include adaptation measures to the effects of climate change. The Program also describes the challenges faced by different sectors of the economy, as well as the expected results from the transition to green technologies and sustainable consumption and production. Some adaptive measures are also outlined in the Program, aiming at reducing the Kyrgyz economy’s vulnerability to environmental stress, and at diversifying livelihood sources of communities affected by climatic changes.
Furthermore, in the framework of the National Climate Forum of Kyrgyzstan held in December 2019, participants – civil society and business sector representatives, environmental experts, climate activists, and other stakeholders – made recommendations to the Kyrgyz government on the development of necessary institutional structures and on the definition of sector-specific adaptation measures. The recommendations concerned the rational use of energy and natural resources, food security and drinking water supply, the prevention of greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, development of urban infrastructure taking into account environmental factors, and education in the field of sustainable development.
Kyrgyzstan has developed an extensive knowledge base of technical solutions and sustainable practices of proven efficiency in the local context. The country has access to the international expert community in the fields of climate change, environmental lawmaking, and adaptation strategies, and can observe concrete examples of institutional capacity building for adaptation in neighboring countries. Professional associations, such as the Green Alliance of Kyrgyzstan, have already been established, and are capable of designing and implementing practical solutions for adaptation.
Thus, adaptive actions have been initiated in Kyrgyzstan, which can give impetus to the elaboration of a comprehensive National Adaptation Plan. The key stages of the NAP process in the Kyrgyz Republic shall be the creation of an institutional framework, the definition of financial means, and the development of monitoring, evaluation, and control mechanisms for implemented adaptation measures.
Key requirements for the NAP process in Kyrgyzstan
- Institutional framework
According to the recommendations of the participants in the National Forum, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic should, first of all, define the state agencies responsible for the NAP process and for building the institutional, technical, and financial potential for adaptation. Executive bodies should comprise experts representing the sectors of the economy that are exposed to the effects of climate change. At the same time, all stakeholders should be able to participate both in the development of the National Adaptation Plan and its implementation, as well as in monitoring and evaluation of adaptation projects.
A key element to be clarified in the NAP process is the “vertical” (national and regional), and “horizontal” (sectoral and sub-regional) distribution of executive bodies’ powers and responsibilities relative to the implementation and control of adaptive measures. In a logic of subsidiarity and to avoid duplication of activities, adaptation measures should be carried out by the structures whose competencies are best suited to specific sectors of the economy.
- Adaptation financing
Special attention should be paid to the allocation of the state budget and the development of financial levers and incentives necessary for the implementation of adaptation measures. These may include, for example, reducing the risks associated with investments in adaptation, financial support for the market for technologies, products, and services facilitating adaptation to climate change, or soft loans for projects that promote sustainable development. The creation of favorable regulatory and economic conditions to attract international public and private climate donors and funds can also be part of the adaptation financing policy.
- Monitoring, evaluation, and control
When drafting the National Adaptation Plan, it is necessary to envisage mechanisms for monitoring the activities of state bodies responsible for the implementation of adaptation measures, and to continuously evaluate the results of these measures to allow for improvements. Transparency of the funds’ allocation is also a key aspect to be enshrined in a framework document.
The Kyrgyz Republic needs to adopt a National Adaptation Plan in order to increase the resilience of all sectors of economy, as well as of communities and infrastructure, to the adverse effects of climate change, while creating conditions for exploration and use of new opportunities arising from the consequences of climate change. Knowledge and experience of both local and international experts will provide a solid basis for the development of a national adaptation strategy in Kyrgyzstan. A special focus on the establishment of a transparent institutional framework should open up access to international and regional mechanisms for financial and technical assistance for adaptation, as provided in the Paris Agreement.
This material has been prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial board or donor.