Nepal pursues a locally led adaptation approach to implement climate plan

April 24, 2023
Photo credit: FAO/Chris Steele-Perkins

April 2023 – Nepal is home of the Himalayas and a country with a unique topography, including the world's highest peaks and deep river valleys. The country has a diverse and complex climate system. Unfortunately, this topography also makes Nepal particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which are already being felt throughout the country. From melting glaciers and increased landslides to more frequent and severe droughts and floods, Nepal is facing a range of unique climate change impacts that threaten the well-being of its people and its ecosystems.

Many changes to vegetation, ecosystems and the environment have been noticed at every level and in every region across the country. With these climate hazards, Nepal recognizes the importance of integrating climate action into agriculture and land use sector for more resilient agriculture systems.

Nepal partnered with the FAO-UNDP Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) programme, funded by Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) for support in its climate action activities.

The SCALA programme sat down with Mr. Sanjeev Karn, the SCALA Focal Point from the Joint Secretary, Food Safety and Food Technology Division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to learn about how SCALA will support Nepal initiate transformative climate action over the next three years of the programme.


What are some of the key priorities in agriculture and land use that have been outlined in your country’s NDC and NAP?

Nepal’s second NDC (2020) and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) in 2021 have outlined the country’s targets for  the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sectors in relation to food security. The Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) is working with a range of stakeholders to implement the mitigation targets, as well as the adaptation goals outlined in these climate documents as part of the country’s commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Nepal’s NDC has prioritized increasing soil organic carbon from 2 percent to 3.95 percent, to maintain soil health and support the establishment of 100 climate-smart farms and 1000 climate-resilient cattle sheds across the country. Nepal’s NAP has prioritized support to commercial animal husbandry for climate-resilient rural livelihoods as part of a model demonstration project in 753 local locations. Nepal is integrating soil and nutrient management for resilient agriculture systems and is strengthening climate services to farming communities.

What kind of approach best suits Nepal’s context for integrating climate action?
Nepal’s unique geography and varying climatic effects, social and economic conditions requires tailored climate action, and a one-size-fits-all solution does not apply to Nepal’s context. Therefore, the MoALD believes that an integrated climate action with a multi-faceted approach would best suit Nepal in addressing the current situation. The Government of Nepal is focusing on stronger implementation of promulgated policies and regulations that support climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. 
The best approaches for Nepal’s context include the involvement of local leaders and key players of influence. Nepal has a new federal system that needs distinctive and continuous climate solutions that consider and engage the local situation of the communities. A locally led adaptation approach that involves local communities in the planning process and in identifying effective climate solutions will help ensure our climate actions are sustainable and have longevity. 
Furthermore, the private sector can play a critical role in our climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, given its potential to invest in climate-friendly technologies and practices. A multistakeholder approach of engaging partnerships will accelerate progress towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy will also be critical. The MoALD is fully confident that Nepal can benefit from global climate financing mechanisms and technology transfer, as well as knowledge sharing and capacity building initiatives. 

What are some of Nepal's main barriers to achieving adaptation and mitigation goals? 
As a developing country, Nepal faces different challenges in achieving its climate adaptation and mitigation goals that are prioritized in its NDC and NAP. The Government of Nepal has limited institutional capacity for addressing issues associated with climate change. Compared to other countries in Asia, I think we need to focus and invest in research and development, as well as enhancing our technical skills and expanding the data-based availability and monitoring systems. We need to be more coordinated across our government agencies and institutions. 
With limited technical human resources and funding, research and development are the least prioritized in the planning process of any government agency. I would like to also add that Nepal’s geography and topography make it even more difficult, and the cost of climate adaptation becomes very high. 
Nepal has limited public awareness and participation in climate change discussions at the local level. There needs to be a more strategic approach for sound adaptation and mitigation initiatives. The MoALD has partnered with the SCALA Programme to help minimizing these gaps.  

Where do you see the SCALA programme adding value to overcome these obstacles?
The SCALA Programme will bring added value and technical expertise in achieving the country’s goals for more resilient agriculture systems and sustainable agriculture and land use practices. The programme will help implement the actions outlined in Nepal’s NDC and NAPs. The MoALD admires the support of development partners to encourage the three-tiers of government in integrating climate actions into planning, budgeting, and monitoring systems. The SCALA Programme can provide capacity building trainings and technical assistance to policymakers, local representatives, and key stakeholders in sustainable agriculture practices. 
The programme can create a space for institutional contributions, promote policy reforms and bring research and development to the forefront of sustainable agriculture actions. The MoALD looks forward to the SCALA programme facilitating partnerships between the public and private sectors in the agriculture and land use sectors and build resilience to climate change in our farming communities. 

The SCALA Programme and Nepal will work together over the next three years to build resilience to climate change through capacity building, technical assistance, and bridging partnerships between the private and public sectors. The programme aims to support smallholder farmers and local communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change. 
By fostering innovation, promoting sustainable practices, and empowering local stakeholders, SCALA will help to build a more sustainable and resilient future for Nepal's agricultural and land use sectors. With the support of this programme, Nepal can continue to move towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future, providing a model for other countries facing similar challenges.