Climate change, which is a wide spoken topic in today’s world, is an inevitable phenomenon. Increased frequency of extreme weather events such as high variability of precipitation that causes severe drought and intense floods has resulted in lethal devastation across Sri Lanka over the past years. It is found out that the geographic location of this island nation makes the country more susceptible for the impacts of climate change.
The adverse effects of climate change have claimed thousands of lives and have detrimentally affected the economy of the country during past years. Sri Lanka’s economy which is largely reliant on the agrarian sector has been affected by the adverse effects of climate change. The impact of climate change on the agriculture can further cripple the country’s frail economy since agriculture is identified as most vulnerable sector to climate change.
Climate change has inflicted detriments to other sectors apart from agrarian sector such as fisheries as well as service exports sector like tourism.
During adverse climatic conditions, the crop production, harvest, livestock production as well as the fish harvest can be affected. Climate change also affects the food production as well as the food security since the production drops drastically during extreme climatic conditions.
Germanwatch which is an independent development and environmental organization, in its Global Climate Risk Index- 2019 ranked Sri Lanka number 2 among countries which were most affected by extreme weather in 2017. The organization analyzes the extent to which the regions are inflicted by weather-related devastating events such as floods, droughts, heat waves etc.
According the recent reports, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka and Dominica were among the countries severely affected by the adverse weather. The reports states that Sri Lanka was severely hit by landslides and floods resulting from heavy fall of monsoon rains during the past year.
Some years ago, Sri Lanka was ranked in 98 in the said index and the drastic rise explicitly shows that Sri Lanka is becoming extremely vulnerable to climate change adversities.
Climate change is inflicting serious consequences on human well being. World Bank has already alarmed that the living standard of Sri Lankans can be severely impacted and can cause a loss in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 7.7 percent or 50 billion USD in 2050 due to the adverse effects of climate change.
In order to mitigate the impact of climate change in Sri Lanka, the government should encourage, fund and promote research into the subject. Since there is a dearth of scientific knowledge on climate change adaptation and mitigations options in the country, the government needs to work in collaboration with the private sector companies and academics to carry out researches into the issue and to assess the impact. It should be noted that private sector involvement in solving the issue is vitally important.
Identifying of country’s vulnerable areas to climate change which are known as “ hotspots” and taking actions to resettle communities in less vulnerable areas can thwart casualties and possible economic loss. Shifting the crop cultivation from the areas identified as “ hotspots” to other areas can prevent the crops being destroyed.
As the human activities contribute largely to climate change, raising awareness among the public is vital. The public should be made aware of the risks they will have to face as a result of adverse climatic conditions. Educating them to be prepared for such adverse conditions can also mitigate the impact.
In an era where developmental activities are taking place in a rapid pace and are highly demanded by the public, it is vital to carry out such activities in a more sustainable and climate-proof manner, incorporating mitigation and adaptation strategies at the same time.