According to Nepal’s First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, published in 2004, the country’s most vulnerable sectors are water resources, public health, and terrestrial ecosystems. Nepal has implemented and is designing a suite of active policies to address the underlying causes of vulnerability in the country, including addressing issues of food security, poverty reduction, and, more recently, environmental degradation. Increasing adverse visible impacts of climate change and recent earthquakes, Nepal is susceptible to additional burdens from existing and potential natural hazards and climate change impacts and urgently requires huge investments in adaptation and disaster management activities to protect its people, property and natural resources. Nepal's adaptation needs for future and in the context of post-2020 will be envisioned through the National Adaptation Plan (NAP). The country places climate change adaptation at the center of its development plans and policies.

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors
  • Implement appropriate crop patterns under a changing climate—including the selection of crop varieties and species ideal for upcoming conditions. This includes building an adaptive agronomic support infrastructure to respond to climate change that ensures optimum use of existing resources.
  • Enhance research and response on emerging pests and diseases.
  • Implement extension work geared towards understanding the changing agricultural landscape in Nepal.
  • Promote water conservation and market-based water allocation.
  • Increase irrigation efficiency and expand the country’s irrigation and storage capacity.
  • Mitigate GLOF risks through pumping, building drainage channels, and implementing downstream flood control measures.
  • Strengthen the country’s health services—paying particular attention to increasing the system’s rapid response capacity with regards to diseases that have a direct climate link, including monitoring and raising awareness. Increasing coordination among the country’s health sector with broader developmental players will ensure that the health concerns related to climate change are mainstreamed into development activities.
  • Promote research on climate change and health—there is an urgent need to understand and attribute the health impacts of climate change in Nepal, especially for vulnerable locations. Securing local drinking water supplies and proper drainage is an essential step towards curbing diseases of water quality.
  • Building climate-resilient hydropower infrastructure will require significant adaptation in the sector to increased runoff and variability, as well as increased reservoir evaporation and sedimentation.
  • Managing water resources and addressing the damaging risks of floods in general should be a priority in the energy sector.
Gaps and Needs
  • Developing a contextually relevant plan (for both the Himalayan and Plains regions) to address natural disasters in these unique and fragile environments requires significant research on current coping strategies, vulnerabilities, and adaptation options (for the Himalayas in particular), rather than applying universal strategies that may not be appropriate for different areas.
  • Mainstreaming disaster risk management into planning and administration, particularly in a geo-climatically diverse environment such as Nepal, requires further research on appropriate mechanisms for mainstreaming at the administrative level, including studies on the differential effects of climate variability and change on disaster vulnerability, and increased glacial melting and shifting rainfall patterns.
  • Ongoing activities do not appear to address the issue of vulnerability to climate change in the energy sector, which in Nepal is inextricably linked to the water sector. Opportunities exist for integration of energy considerations into ongoing and future water initiatives. In addition, current adaptation actions do not appear to address the priority needs of forestry, health, infrastructure, and gender implications.
  • The number of trained disaster managers at the central and field levels is inadequate to deal with disaster risks and should be significantly augmented.
  • Making the shift from reactively responding to climate hazards to a more proactive, risk reduction approach, which requires a significant change in current disaster programming and monitoring in Nepal.
  • Mainstreaming climate variability and change into national policy and planning processes is yet to be achieved in Nepal. The government’s current five year plan, as well as the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework focus on poverty reduction but lack explicit consideration of climate change risks and suggestions for possible responses.
  • Development responses that address unique cultural and environmental diversity, as well as its long-term sustainability while reducing vulnerability are lacking for the Himalayan region. By some accounts, the Nepalese government’s long-term development policy for the Himalayas lacked grounding in the realities of this sensitive zone, which contains large glaciers, seasonal and perennial snows, and wetlands and peat.
  • The realities and weaknesses of government and local agencies, including remoteness, lack of coordination, and inappropriate response in the Himalayan region have left a large gap between official responses and community requirements.
  • Engagement of stakeholders at both local and national levels in decision making and the identification of options for addressing climate change risks is required—as is a significant investment in raising public awareness on issues of climate change, which in Nepal is generally low due to limited communication channels and lack of materials available in the requisite local languages.
  • Appropriate response mechanisms, from a national agency to village-level early warning systems and emergency response capacity, are lacking in all but a few places in Nepal. These systems should be implemented, particularly in the areas vulnerable to GLOFs under a changing climate.
  • Accountability is lacking under Nepal’s current environmental regulations, as are appropriate monitoring systems to deal with potentially vulnerable populations.
  • Poor coordination among stakeholders responsible for climate risk management and environmental projection is commonplace across the country. Issues of coordination must be addressed in order to build a system of knowledge transfer within and across organizations and respond proactively and effectively to climate risks, both now and in the future.
  • Nepal has few weather stations and a shorter duration of reliable records in comparison to other countries (the upper Himalaya region is essentially a data white-spot). As a result, it is difficult to set a baseline and predict how basic climatic parameters such as temperature and precipitation will change over time.
  • Collection of more disaggregated data by geography, income group, gender, and ethnic group on the effects of natural disasters to gauge their relative impact and for planning purposes.
  • Improving observation and forecasting in existing climate prediction mechanisms and introduction of appropriate early warning and crop forecasting systems where appropriate.
  • Map hazards and vulnerabilities—highlighting the location of specific hotspots in the country where climate-related hazards are experienced or likely to be felt is a key step in identifying intervention areas.