Re-Thinking Climate Interventions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: Insights From Nepal

While much of the debate around climate financing focuses on “how much,” an equally important question is “how?”

It is far from easy to strengthen resilience in places where environmental and climate-related risks also interact with pre-existing social, economic, and political stresses, such as poor governance, chronic food insecurity, entrenched grievances, and instability.

How we go about adapting to climate change is critical to ensuring we contribute to more sustainable and resilient communities – rather than exacerbate existing problems and create more trouble in already-fragile contexts.

In new research drawing on International Alert’s extensive history of fieldwork in Nepal, we found several examples ill-informed interventions and siloed approaches to climate change adaptation creating negative consequences.

Taking the Long View

Still recovering from a decade of conflict, Nepal is well-suited to analyze the complexity of building resilience in very poor and fragile contexts. As one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world, Nepal receives a fair amount of international adaptation funding – $113 million approved so far, according to the Climate Funds Update, fourth highest in the world. This small South Asian country, which encompasses Himalayan peaks, highlands, and the Terai lowlands, also receives wider humanitarian and development aid to the tune of roughly one third of government spending.

Climate change has brought recurrent floods, droughts, cyclonic storms, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods. In the meantime, some of the factors that led to civil war from 1996 to 2006 remain present, such as high unemployment, extreme poverty, rural-urban inequality, corruption, ethnic tensions, and distrust of the central government.

For the complete article, please see New Security Beat.