“In the era of climate change,
it is more than an absolute-truth that together we stand, divided we fall. “
–Ziaul Hoque Mukta, Regional Policy Coordinator, Oxfam GB, Asia.
The Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) in collaboration with Oxfam GB and European Union has organised its ‘Annual Technical Workshop’ on 10-11 October 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, involving more than 50 representatives from its hundred plus member organisations of the region on the eve of its 20th anniversary of establishment. CANSA was established in 1992 while discourses and institutional arrangements around climate change were being developed; however, climate change was a prediction at that time.
In 2012, climate change is a cruel reality for millions of people of the world, especially for poor and vulnerable people in the South Asian countries. Consequently, following series of activities implemented under the mentioned collaborative initiative, the technical workshop has focused on contemporary issues and concerns on climate negotiations.
Equity and justice in the context of post-Durban climate change negotiations, green economy, loss and damage, nationally appropriate mitigation action and climate financing were some of the key issues discussed during the workshop. During the opening session, a publication titled ‘Review and Assessment of of SAARC Declarations on Climate Change’ has been inaugurated by Mr. Champika Ranawaka, the Minister for the Ministry of Power of Energy of the Government of Sri Lanka. The publication looks at the policy decisions taken by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and their status of implementation.
Despite various restrictions imposed by the South Asian state-machineries, people of neighboring states of the region have been continuing collaborations amongst themselves on different aspects of socio-cultural and politico-economic affairs through private, informal and unsanctioned ways, as has been observed. Civil Society Organisations including consortia of academic institutions, interpreted the collaborations and envisaged an enhanced partnership among the states of the region.
Consequently, politicians were compelled, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in 1985. However, the politico-military dynamics of the region, evading the compulsion to meet the peoples’ needs, have become the key driving force behind the non-successful progress of the mentioned regional entity. SAARC becomes a big talk-show. Nowadays it’s not performing up to the expected level, despite the fact that the propositions and options have increased tremendously because of the continued explorations by CSOs and research and academic institutions.
It’s difficult to believe that politicians don’t know the benefits of regionalism in a globalised multilateral world. Regionalism allows a group of countries to negotiate and establish commitments, rules and regulations that go beyond that are possible at the time multilaterally. Thus, regionalism protects the economies of the member countries from the vast competition that is facilitated under the most favoured nation (MFN) principle and promotes economic development of the participating countries. It has been proven that in this way regionalism doesn’t block the multilateral system but acts as building block to strengthen it. South Asian politicians are also familiar with how the European Union and other regional initiatives are performing. So what makes them responsible for their inaction?
As an active citizen of a South Asian state, I think that the lack of political will is still the key constraint. South Asian politicians perform like the leaders of respective small sections of their societies, for immediate and short term benefits only. They could inflate the interests of their own section by enhancing the regionalism. They could be the leaders of the nation and of the region, and of the world, if they could only transform their SAARC vision and plan into action. In the era of climate change, it is more than an absolute-truth that together we stand, divided we fall.
Ziaul Hoque Mukta is the Regional Policy Coordinator for Oxfam GB Asia. Along with the regional policy works in Asia and GROW works in South Asia he is serving different global teams in Oxfam including the Economic Justice Policy Group as well as on issues including Food, Agriculture, Water, Climate Change, Post 2015 Development Agenda etc.