Climate change as essential part of policy, planning and natural resource management

Findings and recommendations of four Nepali-focused projects

16 November 2017

On 7 November the consortia of four research projects of the NWO-WOTRO research programme Conflict and Cooperation in the Management in Climate Change (CCMCC) gathered in Kathmandu to present their findings of four years of research. In the audience were representatives from governmental agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations to hear about the results and the recommendations from the four Nepali-focused research consortia.

The four projects focus on conflict dynamics around the management of natural resources in the context of climate change and related interventions. Several issues were the centre of discussion. One of the findings is that the implementation of REDD+ (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is confronted with issues about unclear tenure rights and ineffective procedures for equal benefit-sharing. In the presentation on water security of peri-urban communities, the researchers showed that conflicts are eminent between local users and water vendors. The teams also elaborated on the nature of conflicts around forest and water use and how adaptive learning processes enable transformation of conflict to cooperation. With regard to hydropower, the need for evidence-based provisions for, as well as monitoring of, downstream release was discussed. A representative of the Ministry of Electricity acknowledged that monitoring was lacking and that should be given required attention in order to transform conflicts between hydropower developers and downstream communities.

Participants discussed the need for meaningful engagement of natural resource user groups, such as forest and water user communities in development of policies or finance schemes. The importance of acknowledgement of the diversity of Nepal’s communities, with an eye for social differentiation and disadvantaged communities was underlined. One of the researchers stated that inside communities, recognition of all sections of the diverse and socially differentiated communities is crucial. This diversity in relation to varying needs, as well as different uses of natural resources, is crucial in developing mitigation as well as adaption policies as response to climate change.



Several recommendations were made by the consortia to enhance conflict-sensitiveness of natural resource policies, also those that are developed in response to climate change.

  • The first recommendation concerns coordination: compartmentalised roles and responsibilities lead to weak coordination between different agencies and levels of government and different resource users could be a source of conflict. Capacitating local government financially, with technical knowledge as well in terms of human resources is critical to avoiding conflict.
  • Secondly, there is a lack of clarity due to overlapping roles, leading to ineffective services resulting in conflicts for access and rights to resources. Natural resource governance should be more devolved, participatory and integrated. Decentralised planning processes and monitoring could result in more effective implementation.
  • Furthermore, government reorganisation should be informed of the potential for conflict. Thirdly, varying claims and competition between different actors on resources and associated benefits and costs results in conflict. Benefits should equitably go to the local community, ensuring disadvantaged social groups benefit too.
  • Simplification, better implementation and better monitoring of the existing mechanisms is also needed and civil society organisations could play a major role in monitoring and advocacy of benefit-sharing mechanisms.
  • Moreover , researchers and associations should explore, analyse, document, translate and disseminate findings on benefit sharing through participatory activities at different forums.
  • Also, the poor recognition of roles and rights, participation of different social groups and inequitable sharing of costs and benefits is essential to impeding conflict. Due considerations of the traditional uses and users in relation to the evolving interests around resource use and conservation is necessary. It is critical to provide clear, comprehensive and secure tenure rights to local communities over access and rights to natural resources. Government must ensure that existing guidelines are actually followed in consultation and participation of NR user communities.
  • And last, policy should support those technologies that enable efficient use of natural resources and are appropriate for small scale local institutions and user groups. A conducive environment for small scale, local businesses and the private sector to contribute in a responsible manner could be created.

General conclusion

The general conclusion was that while climate change was not necessarily the main driver behind conflict, it should be an essential part of policy, planning and natural resource management. All of the research investigated conflicts linked to adaptation, mitigation or climate change.



More information

The objective of the NOW-WOTRO programme Conflict and Cooperation in the Management of Climate Change (CCMCC) is to strengthen the evidence on the impact of climate change and climate change policies on conflict or cooperation in developing countries and in particular to strengthen the evidence on the impact of policies and financing mechanisms to address the problem of climate change on cooperation and conflict.

CCMCC is part of the Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries (CoCooN) research programme. Within CoCooN r, there have been two Calls for proposals, in 2009 and 2012. Together, these calls resulted in thirteen research projects.

About the projects

  • The Hydropower Development in the Context of Climate Change project looks into how the effects of hydropower development intersect with the impacts of climate change in the culturally and ecologically diverse region of the Eastern Himalayas in Nepal and India. While, hydropower is relatively clean and renewable, negative socio-environmental repercussions of large hydropower dams are difficult to minimise.
  • The Climate Policy, Conflicts and Cooperation in Peri-Urban South Asia towards Resilient and Secure Water Communities project aims to strengthen and empower communities for the effective management of water insecurity, induced by the combined impacts of climate change and urbanisation in the use, management, and governance of peri-urban water resources of South Asia.
  • The Community based Adaptive Learning in the management of Conflicts and Natural Resources project, or CALCNR, has worked towards addressing knowledge gaps between community management of natural resources, local adaptation innovations and national policy debates over climate change and conflicts related to natural resource access. The project’s research has found that water management has focused on technical and structural measures, but is often compromised by local conflicts.
  • The Conflict and cooperation over REDD+ in Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam project, commonly known as “CoCooR” is an interdisciplinary cross-country project with a focus on analysis of conflicts and co-operation. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), and the enhancement and sustainable use of forest carbon stocks is an international policy framework promoted to align forest governance in developing countries with climate change mitigation objectives and to contribute towards poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation, through both national policies and concrete projects.

Source: NWO