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THE ENVIRONMENTS OF THE POOR IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY: MAKING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES INCLUSIVE
by: Prasert Sirinapaporn and Angkana Chalermpong Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning Background Paper for Conference on “The Environments of the Poor”, 24-26 Nov 2010, New Delhi

KEY ISSUES OF CLIMATE CHANGE INDUCED ENVIRONMENTS OF THE POOR BY GEOGRAPHICAL AND ECOLOGICAL AREA A. FLOODS IN METRO BANGKOK According to an analysis by the University of Tokyo, it is estimated that by 2050 the local mean temperature in Bangkok will rise by 1.9°C and 1.2°C, while the mean precipitation will increase by 3% and 2% corresponding respectively to the IPCC A1FI and B1 climate scenarios. Impacts on the hydrology of the city will be further exacerbated by land subsidence problem, which is estimated to vary spatially between 0.05-0.30 meters. In addition, sea level in the Gulf of Thailand will increase by 0.29 and 0.19 meters under the A1FI and B1 scenarios. This will affect storm surges, estimated at a maximum of 0.61 meters at the Chao Phraya River Mouth, and eventually will impact urban infrastructural development in Metro Bangkok. A comprehensive modeling of the future hydrology of the city has shown that floodprone area in metro Bangkok will expand, and an addition of 180 km2 of Bangkok and Samutprakan (south of Bangkok) may be flooded under the A1FI scenario in 2050, accounting for 30% increase of flood-prone area between 2008 and 2050, with 7% of the land remaining flooded for over one month. While flood volume will increase by the same percentage as precipitation, flood peak discharge in the Chao Phraya River will increase by a higher percentage, resulting in increased severity of the future flood scenario. Increase in storm surges in the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand will also bring about a 2% increase of flood-prone area in Metro Bangkok. It is expected that flooding will mostly affect the western part of Metro Bangkok where the existing and planned flood protection infrastructure including dikes and pumps may be inadequate for the future scenario. These direct effects of climate change will likely reflect significant impacts across major infrastructural sectors, including building and housing, transportation, water supply
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and sanitation, energy and public health, and will therefore have huge implications to the environments and livelihood of the urban poor in Metro Bangkok. Some of the important and severe implications are summarized below. • • About one million inhabitants of Metro Bangkok living in flooded area under the A1FI scenario are estimated to be affected. About 1/8 of the affected inhabitants, or about 125,000, will be from squatter settlements. Most of these inhabitants will live below poverty level. • About 1/3, or 333,000, of the affected inhabitants may be subject to over 0.5 meter of remaining flood for at least one week. • More than one million building and housing units (used for residential, commercial and industrial purposes) may be impacted by flooding in 2050, 300,000 of which are located in western and southern Metro Bangkok. Damage to buildings and assets alone may exceed THB 110 billion (or about USD 3.6 billion, at current prices). However, the deteriorated living conditions in the expanded floodprone area in Metro Bangkok will further exacerbate the hardship already faced by the urban poor and inhabitants of squatter settlements, by depriving them of basic sanitation and access to clean water and by increasing their exposure to water-borne diseases. These significant impacts, if calculated, are likely to make the total damage considerably higher. B. AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL LIVELIHOODS For Southeast Asia, the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change can be quite high. This is because small increases in temperature can cause large reduction in crop yields as many crops are already grown at temperatures near their thermal optimum. In addition, changes in precipitation and sea-level rise can pose significant risks since most agriculture in Southeast Asia is still rain-fed. A study on water and climate change in the Lower Mekong Basin has shown that there will be an increase in the water flow rates in the Mekong River in rainy seasons (AugustOctober), whereas in dry seasons, the water flow rates will decrease significantly. It is expected that the studied area, the Tonle Sap floodplains in Cambodia, will be subject to an increase in flood volume, an expansion of flood-prone area, as well as an increase in the length of flood period in the future climate scenarios (A2 and B2). Most residents of the Tonle Sap floodplains are rice-farmers and fishermen, depending heavily on the hydrological dynamics of the lake. Moreover, most residents in the area are poor and are vulnerable to any changes in natural resources and the environment. Many of them have already recognized some changes and experienced increased flood severity, as
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well as a decrease in fishery resources, even today. Some adaptation measures have therefore been implemented locally, including use of floating houses, use of groundwater for safe drinking, temporary occupation shift during flooding and rural to urban migration of some family members. As impacts are expected to be more acute in the future, there certainly needs to be more organized efforts to sustain the agricultural production and livelihood of Tonle Sap residents. Much of the rain-fed agricultural area in Southeast Asia can relate to the Tonle Sap case study. In a recent work by Pannangpetch et al. assessed the impacts of climate change on four key annual crops in Thailand, including rice, sugarcane, cassava and maize and found that simulated yields for 2090-2099 of cassava and maize fell by 43% and 15% respectively, while sugar yields are expected to increase by 6%. A traditional method farmers have used to increase yields is through farmland expansion, which often leads to forest encroachment. Excessive conversion of land uses from forests to farmland will eventually exacerbate the drought and flood conditions in the area, making it even more difficult for the residents to adapt, and bring about a substantial loss in the quality of ecosystem services necessary to sustain the livelihood of the rural poor.

GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has planned and implemented several structural and non-structural measures in response to climate change impacts in Metro Bangkok, particularly to address the present and future flood and storm surge scenarios. Structural measures include the construction of polders, dikes and monkey cheeks (water retention area) for water drainage and retention. In addition, existing irrigation canals can be improved to divert water. Moreover, the BMA has a plan to construct 10 Tgroins along the 4.7-km shoreline southwest of Bangkok to protect against coastal erosion. Apart from the T-groins, the BMA will grow mangrove trees to protect the shoreline. At present, local people construct bamboo barriers to weaken the strength of the waves hitting the coast to prevent coastal erosion. In addition, the bamboo barriers help to raise silt deposition on the coast. For non-structural measures, several flood forecasting and warning systems are implemented by a number of agencies. The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) issues flood warnings nationwide based on the weather forecasting results. The Department of Water Resources and the Royal Irrigation Department issue a warning when a large scale flood (over 3,000 m3/sec) is expected at the northern part of the Chao Phraya River. The BMA also issues a warning when a heavy rainfall occurs around or in Bangkok.

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At the national level, government programs to address climate change are generally fragmented with different programs in different line ministries. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment took the first step at trying to integrate these fragmented efforts under the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change (2008-2012), and formed a nationallevel committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, to oversee nationwide policy formulation for more coherent and coordinated efforts. As science becomes more compelling and as it is now widely received that effective efforts in addressing climate change should be incorporated or mainstreamed into development planning, as well as area-based planning, the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) is now working towards including climate change as part of the next phase of Thailand’s national development plan for 2012-2016. Correspondingly, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is now in the process of framing the next National Environmental Quality Management Plan (2012-2016), and climate change mitigation and adaptation is likely to be integrated as strategic issues contributing to sustainable natural resource and environmental management, which is the ultimate goal of the Plan. Under different line ministries, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Management has launched a National Disaster Plan incorporating climate change induced natural disasters. The Ministry of Science and Technology has recently established the Climate Change Knowledge Management Center to collect, synthesize and disseminate knowledge on climate change to support strategic planning of government agencies, private sector as well as the local community, to strengthen the coping capacity to climate risks. The Office of Agricultural Economics formed a committee to study climate change mitigation and adaptation. In recognition that its routine work on species selection and crop variety improvement related to drought or flood tolerance is an important foundation for adaptation, the Rice Department has already taken continuous actions to promote and support conservation of local plant varieties tolerant to variable conditions. The Royal Irrigation Department plays an important role in managing water resources for agriculture in Thailand and also in flood protection for many cities and towns. In addition, Thailand Research Fund, with its working groups on climate change issues, has helped to develop and support the growing network of climate change experts in Thailand as well as provide significant public policy support.

OPPORTUNITIES OF GREEN GROWTH FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMY OF THE POOR

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In the effort of making green growth strategies more inclusive and capable of addressing climate change impacts of the poor, these opportunities should be considered: • Support the role of poor farmers in the renewable energy scheme, by building knowledge and capacity and providing incentives for poor farmers to plant and manage energy crops and to collect agricultural waste, and by facilitating and ensuring market access to secure constant supply of crops and biomass waste for renewable energy production. (Comparable incentives should also be provided for agricultural food production to keep balance in achieving both the goals of energy and food security.) • Provide incentives for investment in natural capitals to reduce vulnerabilities and create more resilience to climate change impacts by promoting measures such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) or Reducing Emission from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) and support the role of poor rural communities in conservation activities. • Build knowledge and develop capacity of local governments to integrate or mainstream climate risks as well as environmental sustainability into land use, city and infrastructure planning

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REFERENCES: Adaptation Knowledge Platform, “Scoping Assessment for National Implementation in Thailand: Summary.” (October 2010)  K. Pannangpetch et al., “Impacts of Global Warming on Rice, Sugarcane, Cassava, And Maize Production in Thailand: Final Technical Report. 31 october 2009.” (Thailand Research Fund, 2009). Marko Keskinen, Suppakorn Chinvanno, Matti Kummu, Paula Nuorteva, Anond Snidvongs, Olli Varis and Kaisa Vastila, “Water and Climate Change in the Lower Mekong Basin: Diagnosis and Recommendations for Adaptation.” (2009) Panya consultants, Co. Ltd., “Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Study for Bangkok Metropolitan Region.” (March 2009)

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