By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Southeast Asian climate experts have warned that extreme precipitation brought about by climate change may adversely affect the region’s food security.
“In a 1.5-degree warming scenario, Southeast Asia will have a 70 percent increase in precipitation; while in a 2-degree warming world, there will be a 10 percent increase in extreme precipitation. That will have a huge impact in agriculture,” said Lourdes Tibig, lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a member of the Philippine Climate Change Commission’s National Panel of Technical Experts. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2050, crop yields will decrease by 25 percent if climate change is not addressed now. “Numbers do not tell lies. All the more that scientists’ collaboration across Southeast Asia is needed,” Tibig said. Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. It is bound by more than its proximity but also with their cultures and customary practices. Responding to the climate challenge, the group of climate, forestry, and agriculture scientists from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam laid the foundation for a regional network to use science as basis for long-term development strategies. “We should be aware of our vulnerability. The level of readiness in facing the impacts of climate change among countries in Southeast Asia is different. By sharing our practices, we can collectively address the knowledge gaps that exist in the region,” said Mahawan Karuniasa, chairman of the Indonesia Expert Network for Climate Change and Forestry. “We need a network to strengthen our engagement because this is the key factor in enhancing capacity and improving our resiliency,” Karuniasa said. Southeast Asia is among the world’s largest producers of rice after India and China. The region is also a global hotspot of biodiversity, with the third largest intact forest area in the world.