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Development and Climate Change in Nepal

Development and Climate Change in NepalDevelopment and Climate Change in Nepal
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This report presents the integrated case study for Nepal carried out under an OECD project on Development and Climate Change. The report is structured around a three-tier framework. First, recent climate trends and climate change scenarios for Nepal are assessed, and key sectoral impacts are identified and ranked along multiple indicators to establish priorities for adaptation. Second, donor portfolios in Nepal are analyzed to examine the proportion of donor activities affected by climate risks. A desk analysis of donor strategies and project documents as well as national plans is conducted to assess the degree of attention to climate change concerns in development planning and assistance. Third, an in-depth analysis is conducted for Nepal’s water resources sector which was identified as most vulnerable to climate change.

This part of the analysis also involved stakeholder consultation through an in-country workshop to identify key synergies and conflicts between climate change concerns and sectoral projects and plans. Analysis of recent climatic trends reveals a significant warming trend in recent decades which has been even more pronounced at higher altitudes. Climate change scenarios for Nepal across multiple general circulation models meanwhile show considerable convergence on continued warming, with country averaged mean temperature increases of 1.2°C and 3°C projected by 2050 and 2100. Warming trends have already had significant impacts in the Nepal Himalayas – most significantly in terms of glacier retreat and significant increases in the size and volume of glacial lakes, making them more prone to Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF). Continued glacier retreat can also reduce dry season flows fed by glacier melt, while there is moderate confidence across climate models that the monsoon might intensify under climate change. This contributes to enhanced variability of river flows. A subjective ranking of key impacts and vulnerabilities in Nepal identifies water resources and hydropower as being of the highest priority in terms of certainty, urgency, and severity of impact, as well as the importance of the resource being affected.

Nepal receives between 350-400 million dollars of Official Development Assistance (ODA) annually. Analysis of donor portfolios in Nepal using the OECD-World Bank Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database reveals that between 50-65% of development assistance (by aid amount) or 26-33% of donor projects (by number) are in sectors potentially affected by climate risks. However, these numbers are only indicative at best, given that any classification based on sectors suffers from over-simplification – the reader is referred to the main report for a more nuanced interpretation. Donor and government documents generally do not mention climate change explicitly, although some risks are being taken into account – albeit in a narrow engineering sense – as part of some development activities in Nepal.

The in-depth analysis of water resources in Nepal identifies two critical impacts of climate change – GLOFs and variability of river runoff – both of which pose significant impacts not only on hydropower, but also on rural livelihoods and agriculture. A preliminary discussion on prioritization of adaptation responses highlights potential for both synergies and conflict with development priorities. Micro-hydro, for example, serves multiple rural development objectives, and could also help diversify GLOF hazards.

On the other hand, storage hydro might conflict with development and environmental objectives, but might be a potential adaptation response to increased variability in stream-flow and reduced dry season flows which are anticipated under climate change. Further, while addressing one impact of climate change (low flow), dams could potentially exacerbate vulnerability to another potential impact (GLOFs), as the breach of a dam following a GLOF might result in a second flooding event. Finally, the in-depth analysis also highlights a trans-boundary or regional dimension to certain impacts, highlighting the need for regional coordinated strategies to cope with such impacts of climate change.


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Regional and global effects > Climate change
OECD - Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Secretariat: The World Bank & Asian Development Bank