Climate Adaptation Challenges and Urban Insecurity

NAPSNet Policy Forum

Recommended Citation

Saleem Janjua, "Climate Adaptation Challenges and Urban Insecurity", NAPSNet Policy Forum, May 16, 2013,

by Saleem Janjua

16 May 2013

 I. Introduction

In light of a range of difficult domestic problems, including terrorism, poverty, poor governance, Saleem Janjua writes “climate change looks, at most, a less important issue in Pakistan to be dealt with. However, climate change – by re-sketching the maps of water availability, food security, disease occurrences, land use and coastal boundaries – may have severe implications for country’s overall security and stability.”

Saleem Janjua is the Climate Change Adaptation contributor for the NAPSNet Weekly report.

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.

 II. Policy Forum by Saleem Janjua

Climate Adaptation Challenges and Urban Insecurity

In developing countries, climate change poses a serious challenge to social, environmental and economic development. The review of literature (Nguyen et al., 2013; Adger et al., 2003; Handmer, 2003; and Kates, 2000) indicates that adaptation to climate change is more relevant and crucial to the developing countries because their economies are more dependent on climate-sensitive natural resources, and because they are less able to tackle the impacts of climate change. Yamin et al. (2005) are of the view that the people who will be exposed to the worst of the impacts are the ones least able to cope with the associated risks. Populations in developing countries generally develop a number of coping mechanisms (e.g. diversification of crops, changing sources of income, migration and social networks of support) in order to live with climatic variations and uncertainty. Roy et al. (2006) consider that these adjustments or adaptations mostly take place in an informal way as people in developing countries have a very little access to formal support through public sector. Further, the rapid changes in the climate (e.g. extreme events) present an additional challenge to the development of adaptation mechanisms in developing countries. The people in Pakistan, one such developing country, are also considered among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Reducing vulnerability to climate change in recent years has become an imperative issue and is at the forefront of any sustainable development policy agenda both in developed and developing countries. It is, therefore, important to find ways and means by which communities in Pakistan may be enabled to adapt to climate change. However, these days Pakistan is considered one the world’s most complex geopolitical areas – one struggling with terrorism, poverty, poor governance, and many other related issues. Pakistan’s domestic problems extend beyond its borders and have a widespread impact on regional and global security. Against this milieu, the increasing scientific evidence backing up the speed and scope of climate change looks, at most, a less important issue in Pakistan to be dealt with. However, climate change – by re-sketching the maps of water availability, food security, disease occurrences, land use and coastal boundaries – may have severe implications for country’s overall security and stability.

While the future of Pakistan’s security and economic conditions is still uncertain given terrorism, poverty, corruption and other issues, what is clear is that Pakistani local governments continue delivering services to their people under all such prevailing conditions. Also, changes in climate continue affecting the Pakistani local governments (urban, rural and coastal) by changing conditions of various types of infrastructure including; built systems (roads, bridges, water and sewage networks etc), natural systems (watersheds, forests etc.) and human systems (health, education, human welfare etc.).

Related to all the challenges (mentioned above) faced by Pakistan, I consider that actions taken to tackle climate change will, of course, only ever be a small portion of the overall efforts. However, there is much that Pakistani governments (federal, provincial, and/or local) can do along with various stakeholders to adapt to the impacts of climate change. With this in mind, I am of the view that best possible opportunities (learning dimension for climate adaptation) need to be explored for climate change adaptation at the local government level in Pakistan. The efforts should be made to bridge the gap between ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ aspects of organizational change for climate adaptation which could enable climate adaptation learning and action in any urban Pakistani local governments.

III. References

Adger, W.N., Huq, S., Brown, K., Conway, D., & Hulme, M. (2003). Adaptation to climate change in the developing world. Progress in Development Studies, 3(3), 179-195.

Handmer, J. (2003). Adaptive capacity: what does it mean in the context of natural hazards? In Smith, JB, Klein, RJT & Huq, S (eds.) Climate Change, Adaptive Capacity, and Development, Imperial College Press: London.

Kates, R.W. (2000). Cautionary tales: adaptation and the global poor. Climatic Change, 45(1), 5-17.

Nguyen, T.C., Robinson, J., Kaneko, S., Komatsu, S. (2013). Estimating the value of economic benefits associated with adaptation to climate change in a developing country: A case study of improvements in tropical cyclone warning services. Ecological Economics, 86(1), 117-128.

Retrieved May 13, 2013, from

Roy, J., Gosh, A., & Barua, G. (2006). The Economics of Climate Change: A Review of Studies in the Context of South Asia with a Special Focus on India, Report Submitted to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.

Yamin, F., Rahman, A., & Huq, S. (2005). Vulnerability, Adaptation and Climate Disasters: A Conceptual Overview, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Bulletin, 36(4), 1-14, Retrieved May 13, 2013, from


The Nautilus Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this report. Please leave a comment below or send your response to: Comments will only be posted if they include the author’s name and affiliation.

nautilus-logo-smallThe NAPSNet Policy Forum provides expert analysis of contemporary peace and security issues in Northeast Asia. As always, we invite your responses to this report and hope you will take the opportunity to participate in discussion of the analysis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.