Myanmar is highly vulnerable to climate change: according to some studies, even to the point as 2nd most vulnerable country in the world, in terms of vulnerability from extreme weather events related to climate change, in the 1991-2013 period, as in the latest updates in the Global Risk Index confirm the country ranks in second place (Check the document here).
This is a serious threat to Myanmar’s sustainable development. Myanmar is committed to reduce its vulnerability and to play its role in the global community to combat climate change.
Myanmar’s wealth, economy, and society are defined by and highly dependent on its environment, natural resources, climatic conditions and the health of its eco-system. Also, because of its geographic location and geo-morphology, Myanmar is regularly exposed to a series of natural events with potentially negative impacts. These events may be exacerbated by the changing climate, which can also have an effect on, for instance, seasons and rain patterns, and consequently on agriculture, the availability and quality of the water resources, the bio-diversity or the eco-system as a whole.
So not only life and assets are at risk of sudden, extreme events (remember Cyclone Nargis in 2008 was responsible for an estimated loss of 140,000 lives as well as the property of approximately 2.4 million people) but also the production and sources of livelihoods, the economy and the very well-being of the Myanmar’s people are threatened.
More specifically, Myanmar is exposed to a number of severe climatic events, including cyclones, floods, heavy rains, droughts, extreme temperatures), which are becoming more frequent and more severe with the changing climate;
Secondly, the population and assets are largely exposed to these events because of their location in coastal areas, in the delta areas or in the dry zone areas: most of the 51.2 million population, according to the 2014 Census (read the Census here) live in climate change exposed areas. These areas include theDelta , which experiences tropical storms, cyclones and floods, storm surge, erosion and the Dry Zone area, which suffers from chronic droughts, but can also experience flooding);
Thirdly, because the capacities of its people, assets, institutions and policies to prevent or mitigate the effects of such events are still limited and needs to be strengthened, considering the severity of the events.
Climate change is making the challenges more acute on the one hand, in the last 6 decades, we have observed more frequent and more severe events (for instance Cyclone Nargis in 2008, but also other disasters); the predictability of the rainy periods has diminished (Myanmar’s history, economy and traditions are related to its monsoon season, which are now changing, and so will have to change the agricultural seasons and practices). If the projections at global level, and at national level (PRECIS Model, NAPA 2012), are confirmed, we may experience an increase in temperature across the country; increase in clear sky days exacerbating drought periods; further change in the rainfall patterns and amount; increase in risk of floods resulting from a late onset and early withdrawal of monsoon events; and a further increase in the number and intensity of cyclones, strong winds, floods, storm surges, intense rains, extreme high temperatures, and sea-level rise. On the other hand, these changes may also bring other consequences and effects, such sea-level rise, consequent threats to the coastal areas, salinization, snow-melt in the mountains, soil erosion and degradation, effects on bio-diversity and disruption of eco-systems.
With more severe natural hazards, changes in climate with the consequences described above, and low capacities for adaptation, Myanmar is likely to be even more vulnerable in the future. Action must be taken.