From community action to government policy: adapting to climate change in Nepal

13 December 2019

For Crawford School Master of Climate Change graduate Sanjay Pariyar seeing the impact of climate change around the world made him want to understand more about international and domestic climate change policies, and the mitigation and adaptation priorities for different countries.

With Nepal being the world’s fourth most vulnerable country to climate change according to the 2017 Climate Risk Index, adaptation has become an increasingly strong focus for governments and communities.

Climate change has affected Nepal’s people and ecosystems. It is impacting agriculture, water resources, human health, forests and biodiversity, threatening the livelihoods and well-being of people.

Studying a Master of Environmental Science in Nepal, Sanjay came to see the hardship people that were relying on farming for their livelihoods were facing, eventually forcing them to migrate.

“What I witnessed during my studies and work was that people started migrating due to water scarcity in the villages particularly in the mountain area. People struggled to get a single vessel of drinking water due to the drying up of water sources,” he said.

“In this situation, people weren’t able to use water for agricultural activities even though farming was a major source of income for their families.

“It is not only the physical part of migration that cause hardship, but also the cultural, social, emotional and spiritual aspects. People were not happy to leave the places that were left to them by their ancestors and which they have owned for many years. Witnessing this profound impact prompted me to think more deeply about climate change and adaptation.”

This realisation provided Sanjay with the impetus for applying for an Australia Awards scholarship and making his way to Crawford School.

“I was previously working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nepal, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Nepal which focused on climate conservation, disaster management and climate change adaption. Working with these organisations helped me gain the experience and knowledge that contributed to my successful scholarship application, and eventually getting accepted into the Master of Climate Change at Crawford.

“At first, I was worried that ANU wouldn’t accept me because I didn’t have a strong policy and economics background and was more focused on work on the coal face. But when I finally got the offer letter, that was the happiest day for me.”

During his time at Crawford, Sanjay dedicated himself to studying international and national climate change policies, assessing climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation planning, participatory resources management and various other issues concerning environment and development across the world. Sanjay specifically looked into Nepal’s climate adaptation policies such as the Nepal Climate Change Support Program (NCCSP), which is focused on the implementation of Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) at the community level.

Taking Crawford’s interdisciplinary courses, and studying with world-class experts were crucial for Sanjay in building the skills that he wants to apply in his professional future.

“What I found really useful about doing the Master of Climate Change, was that you could focus on both policies and real-life application by combining courses from Crawford and Fenner School.

“At Crawford, you find a multicultural environment, and you will find world leaders in their respective fields teaching climate change courses. If you’re interested in climate change, you must come study at Crawford.

“These two years have been the biggest achievement of my life. The Master of Climate Change will be hugely important for me in getting my dream job with one of Nepal’s climate change projects. I am confident that the knowledge and skills I gained studying at Crawford will help me support vulnerable people in Nepal in the future.”

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Updated:  1 June 2020/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team