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[ISLAMABAD] South Asian scientists and legislators who participated in a series of climate change dialogues held in the Pakistani capital last month were unanimous that their governments needed to adopt a regional strategy to protect natural resources and adapt to climate change.

At the 13th governing council meeting of South Asia cooperative environment programme held 3—5 December, Pakistan’s climate change secretary Raja Hassan Abbas described  climate change as a transnational issue requiring countries in the region to find common solutions. 

The participants agreed that South Asian countries could carry out joint research studies and surveys, develop regional environmental data and information management system and share experience, information and technology to enable the region to adopt conducive legislation.

Maldivian minister for environment and energy Thoriq Ibrahim offered his country’s services in knowledge sharing and appreciated Indian and Pakistani approaches towards information sharing.

“We are ready to disseminate data, research and information to all South Asian nations regarding meteorology, atmospheric black carbon, sea-level rise, coastal zones and coral reefs research and expecting the same from the rest of the region,” Ibrahim said.

The South Asian Environmental Assessment Conference, held in Islamabad simultaneously,   also stressed the need for a structured approach to tackle climate change through strategic environmental impact assessment and make it a part of every policy with effective reforms and laws enforcement.

Speaking on the occasion, IUCN regional director for Asia Aban Marker Kabraji said the initiative could help the region to “stay ahead of the curve, using the best techniques and science available to manage particular development challenges.”

“Although we may be geographically divided, our environmental issues are shared. It is clear that our future survival depends upon a common approach,” she added.

A resolution adopted at the sixth Asian Parliamentary Assembly (held 8—10 December in Islamabad) by 43 countries, made a commitment to save environment, increase forest cover, combat desertification, share scientific knowledge and conduct research to develop indigenous low-carbon and clean technologies.

Similarly, a South Asian parliamentary and policy makers session on climate change (16—17 December) called for sharing best practices, investment in technologies and conservation of agricultural land to ensure food security.

“The climate change threat can be converted into an opportunity — we need to move ahead leaving behind minor differences to benefit of billions of people in South Asia,” Sanjay Vashist, programme advisor for climate change at the Heinrich Boll Foundation, India office, tells SciDev.Net.