publication June 28, 2018

South Asia's Hotspots

World Bank Group


A new World Bank report, South Asia’s Hotspots, finds that average temperatures in the region have increased in the last sixty years and will continue rising. Eight hundred million South Asians are at risk to see their standards of living and incomes decline as rising temperatures and more erratic rainfalls will cut down crop yields, make water more scare, and push more people away from their homes to seek safer places.

A new World Bank report, South Asia’s Hotspots, finds that average temperatures in the region have increased in the last sixty years and will continue rising. Rainfall is becoming more erratic: some areas will experience more droughts, others more rain.

These changes impact agriculture, health, and productivity.

More than 800 million people are living in areas that are projected to become hotspots.


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Main findings

  • The report analyzes two future climate scenarios—one that is “climate-sensitive,” which includes collective mitigation efforts under the Paris Agreement (RCP 4.5); and one that is “carbon-intensive,” which assumes minimal collective action is taken (RCP 8.5). Both show rising temperatures throughout the region in coming decades, with the carbon-intensive scenario showing greater increases.
  • , and a majority of the region’s population lives in areas where temperature is already above that peak. On the other hand, increases in rainfall are generally associated with higher living standards.
  • The combination of these two estimated gradients is used to predict changes in household consumption at the local level in each of the two future climate scenarios. The report finds that most of the expected hotspots are currently characterized by low living standards, poor road connectivity, uneven access to markets, and other development challenges.
  • At the same time, living standards in some currently cold and dry mountain areas could improve marginally.
  • Importantly, most of the hotspots are in inland areas. Analyses of climate change focused on extreme weather events and sea-level rise have focused attention on relatively richer coastal areas. This report is a call to think about strategies targeted to hotspot inhabitants, the hidden victims of climate change.

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Recommendations

  • The identification of hotspots from changes in average weather allows to design strategies to cope with climate impacts with a great level of spatial granularity. 
  • The expected decline in living standards resulting from expected changes in temperature and rainfall provides an indication of how much it would be worth spending to mitigate the impacts.
  • The relationship between expected changes in living standards, and observed household and location characteristics—such as human capital and infrastructure—provides valuable hints on potential interventions for building resilience.
  • Policies and actions must be tailored to address the specific impacts and needs based on local conditions. No single set of interventions will work in all hotspots. 

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