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Climate Change Action Plan 2021-2025, South Asia Roadmap

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Foreword

South Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. Its people are living through a “new climate normal,” where intensifying heat waves, cyclones, droughts, and floods are testing the limits of governments, businesses, and citizens to adapt. Jacobabad in Pakistan’s Sindh province was, this year, the hottest city on the planet with temperatures higher than the human body can handle. In 2020, more than three million people were evacuated to safety from the fury of Super Cyclone Amphan.

At the same time, South Asia has an unfinished development agenda with legitimate aspirations to reach middle income status in the foreseeable future, which will include increasing access to energy, increasing rural incomes and managing large scale urbanization, among others. The success with which South Asian countries navigate these development transitions, while also reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience, will determine the region’s ability to lift millions from the threat of poverty and vulnerability, and help the world to secure the overall climate transition.

There are many examples of where South Asia is already leading the way in sustainable and resilient development. India is one of the world’s leaders in installed solar energy. Bangladesh is a model for the world in terms of building coastal resilience. However, now more than ever, more urgent transformational climate action will pave the way for a resilient, sustainable recovery in South Asia. Emerging “green” sectors like battery technologies, e-mobility, climate smart agriculture and water management, and climate-friendly housing, and industrial decarbonization offer South Asian countries a new paradigm to generate growth and create sustainable jobs.

Our South Asia Climate Roadmap is an explicit pivot to better integrate and ramp up World Bank Group support for mitigation and adaptation efforts with development activities over the next five years. The Plan builds on the global Climate Change Action Plan by offering concrete steps to help the region accelerate transitions in three key areas that will be critical to increasing incomes, reducing emissions, and building resilience to the rapidly warming climate in the region.

First, the Bank Group will help scale up climate-smart food system strategies and investments and deepen its support to increase farm productivity and lower emissions, while also conserving water and energy.

Second, decarbonizing the energy sector—while ensuring universal access to electricity—is critical to avoid the greatest impacts from climate change. The Roadmap is designed to help countries across South Asia transition to zero-carbon energy system that not only drive growth but are also equitable and just.
Third, the Roadmap fosters the growth of low-carbon and climate resilient urban centers. South Asia, the second-fastest urbanizing region of the world, will add nearly 600 million people to urban areas in the next thirty years. The Bank Group will support competitive, livable cities in South Asia that are designed and built for people not cars, that use urban density and form in a smart manner, and that are reliant on well-functioning, clean, integrated public transport systems.

Delivering on this commitment will also require systemic resilience for people, including climatesmart social protection systems and incorporating climate considerations upstream into infrastructure planning. It will also require robust, fit-for-purpose public and private financial systems that can fund the transitions away from carbon-emitting sectors and incentivize resilience. That means working with our partners across the region to green the financial sector, improve the efficiency of public expenditures, and use scarce public resources to leverage private finance.

This Roadmap will evolve over time. The new Climate Change and Development Reports, developed collaboratively with key stakeholders, will elaborate in more detail the priority reforms and investments that will be needed to accelerate these transitions.

I invite policy makers, the private sector, development partners, and civil society stakeholders to work with us to ensure that South Asia accelerates its climate smart-development, helping to save millions of lives from the impacts of climate change. Let’s embrace this lifetime opportunity together to put South Asia on a more equitable, prosperous, and cleaner path.

—Hartwig Schafer Vice President, South Asia Region World Bank Group