Climate Literacy in Action: Unveiling Climate Realities and Business Insights in Nepal

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Recently, I was invited as a trainer for Climate Literacy, Climate Learning Toolbox and Business Workshop. I took on the modules: Human Impacts on the Climate and Climate Change Impacts on Humans. The participants included youth from all walks of life and a wide-ranging background such as public health, business, agriculture and much more from Bagmati Province, Nepal. So, I decided the training to be based on a lot of theoretical concepts with some exercises.

For the module Human Impacts on the Climate, we dug into how human actions lead to climate change. I highlighted the cases of deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, pollution, overpopulation, and habitat destruction and contextualized it for Nepal as well. I threw in questions every now and then to initiate discussions on the same.

In pollution, the inclusion of light pollution was a surprise for many. Likewise, non-linear relationship between overpopulation and climate change also caught the attention. Differential contributions with population in the most developed countries contributing to most carbon dioxide emission became a subject of discussion.

Then came Activity 1 where we asked the students to draw the life cycle of the electronic products from their use, raw materials required to their end of life. Just a quick google search yielded a lot of resources for them with some finding that 80% of a phone can be recycled. While many spoke of the non-recyclability of hard plastic and raised issues of their end life to be the landfill itself. A discussion on this matter highlighted that hard plastics can also be recycled depending on the recycling facility available.

Students elaborating on life of a product.

We also had presentations from another trainer who talked about the environmental movements drawing parallels to the movie Avatar and Dongria Kondh tribe of Niyamgiri hills about the movement undertaken by the tribal people for the protection of their revered forests.

Students inquiring about some concepts

It was time for a break and right after we discussed despite being a low contributor to climate change, Nepal is highly vulnerable to its impacts. We delved into how climate change impacts humans by taking into account extreme temperatures, increased droughts, food scarcity, health risks, and poverty and displacement. I made sure to highlight that the impacts of climate change are much more than just increase in temperature. These changes influence the atmospheric pressure system which can greatly impact the weather system. Contextualizing it to impacts felt by us, I highlighted how warmer temperature corresponds to sometime stronger monsoon season and sometimes monsoonal droughts.

Moving forward we talked about how climate refugees with village of Dhe recognized as the first case of climate change refugees in Nepal. The discussions also led to how warmer climate is making it easier for vector carriers to have suitable climate and able to spread disease such as dengue and malaria where previously it wasn’t much of a threat.

Then came time for another activity, identifying social and environmental impacts of climate change. Here we received some interesting insights with teams from Dhading stating the emergence of pest problem Slaha or locust in their locality. Likewise, participants from Kathmandu noted of increase cases of dengue and threats to plants due to increase in pests leading to decrease in their productivity. While participants from Kavre noted phenological changes in flowering and ripening in plants such as Buddhachitta and emergence of plant disease impacting both productivity and livelihood to decrease in lichen (locally called Jhyau). Besides, participants from Madi noted increase in flood and other disasters causing loss of lives and properties. Such examples go on to show climate change impacts felt locally and relating to the threats on a more personal level.

I also showed my teams’ role for climate action in Nepal. My team – Wetlands for Nepal has been working on restoring an urban wetland – Nagdaha by utilizing the invasive plant species for biopesticide production. Highlighting my own experiences, I shared how enterprise can enable climate action.

If anyone is interested in promoting climate education, please feel free to refer to my slides. Although the slides a more general and theoretical in nature, including discussions and activities can enable more interactive sessions as mentioned above.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

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