Himalaya – Changing Landscapes photo exhibition on show in Berne, Switzerland

26 Oct 2009

   TwitCount

Berne

The large outdoor exhibition by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and sponsored by Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) is currently on show at the Waisenhausplatz (Meret-Oppenheim-Brunnen) in Berne, Switzerland. The exhibition is open 10am – 6pm 25 - 31 October 2009.

In the 1950s Austrian and Swiss scientists conducted extensive studies of the Everest region in Nepal. Photos taken by these scientific teams are vital in trying to understand the impact of climate change on the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas. Mountain geographer Alton Byers revisited the photo sites in 2007 and took replicates showing many changes. In 2008, as part of its 25th Anniversary celebrations, ICIMOD united the old and new photographs in a photo exhibition: Himalaya – Changing Landscapes, now on display in Berne.

The exhibition aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change and other new challenges that mountain people are facing. The stunning repeat panorama views of mountains and glaciers are accompanied by photographs of the scientists conducting glacier research in the 1950s. In the second part of the exhibition, photographs from renowned Swiss photographers Fritz Berger and Toni Hagen (with repeat photographs by Alex Treadway) taken in the mid hills of Nepal and Pakistan show landscape and cultural and socioeconomic changes.  

Climate change is affecting people and the environment around the globe and this is especially evident in the Himalayas. The greater Himalayan region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the two poles. Warming in the Himalayan region has been much greater than the global average. Himalayan people contribute little to global warming, yet they experience some of its most severe impacts. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme with prolonged dry spells and strong storms. This phenomenon is causing concern over the long-term impact on total water supply. Global warming is likely to have far reaching consequences -- on water, agriculture, biodiversity, and the many other factors that provide a basis for people to survive. The ten river systems originating in the Himalayas serve around 1.3 billion people. The footprint of food and energy production of the Himalayan river basins reaches up to 3 billion people. There is a wide gap in the knowledge of the short and long term implications of climate change on the Himalayas. Most studies conducted have excluded the Himalayan region because of its extreme and complex topography, and the lack of adequate existing data.  

Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD; “Melting glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg. The changes taking place are alarming, and the time to act is now. Scientific evidence shows that the effects of globalisation and climate change are being felt in even the most remote Himalayan environments. The signs are visible, but there is very little in-depth knowledge or data available from the Himalayan region. Global measures of scientific co-operation and regional collaboration are needed to reduce this information gap. What happens in this remote mountain region is a serious concern for the whole world”. 

For mountain people there are other drivers of change, too: migration, population growth, changes in land-use, and introduction and removal of species. On the other hand people have better access to roads, electricity, education, and communication. Remittances bring new prosperity, and tourism is increasing. But urbanisation, outmigration of men, and problems with waste disposal are also having a marked effect.  

The Himalaya – Changing Landscapes photo exhibition was first unveiled in a small format at the Mount Everest Base Camp (5300m) in April 2008, making it the highest photo exhibition in the world. In 2008 the exhibition was held in Stockholm, Barcelona, and Kathmandu, and earlier this year in Bonn, Germany. ICIMOD sees the exhibition as a powerful tool for raising awareness of the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.

For more information please see www.changing-landscapes.com

For further information contact:
Ms Nonna Lamponen
Head of Resource Mobilisation and External Relations/ICIMOD
nlamponen@icimod.org  

Ms Nira Gurung
Communications Officer /ICIMOD
ngurung@icimod.org  
Tel. +977 1 5003222

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