Eastern Himalayan countries discuss roadmap for regional action on adaptation to climate change

18 Aug 2010


Kathmandu, 18 August 2010

Four eastern Himalayan countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal – officially commenced a three-day high-level technical consultative meeting in Kathmandu on the ‘Sacred Himalayas for Water, Livelihoods, and Bio-cultural Heritage’. The meeting is being organised by ICIMOD and the Royal Government of Bhutan and expected outcomes will create a roadmap leading to the proposed ‘Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas, Bhutan 2011’.

Opening the meeting, the chief guest, Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, Vice Chair of the National Planning Commission, Nepal, congratulated the Royal Government of Bhutan for taking this initiative to develop a regional framework and national adaptation plans to climate change, to reduce the vulnerability of local populations living in the region including the lowlands. He commended the role of ICIMOD, of which he is a board member, in providing technical backstopping to the Summit, which has an important objective:  assisting the populations in the eastern Himalayan region to adapt to climate change.

Dr Pema Gyamtsho, Minister for Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan, said that countries should work together in developing medium- and long-term strategies as citizens of the eastern Himalayas.

“We share a common geography, common problems, and a common destiny and need to take collective action to tackle the problems posed by changing climate.” He emphasised that we have to start working together on an urgent basis.

“We also need to gain a clearer picture of the changes taking place in relation to temperature rise and its local effects. There are heavy fluctuations in weather patterns and their implications at the local, national, and regional levels are going to be significant. We have to work towards developing our own adaptive strategy at the regional level.”

He commended the efforts of ICMOD, “which has given the regional countries this platform which provides us an opportunity to share and disseminate information and plan together.”

Dr Madhav Karki, Acting Director General of ICIMOD, highlighted the potentials of the HKH region, also known as the ‘Third Pole’ or the ‘Water Towers of Asia’ as a major water source for close to 1.3 billion people. Climate change has a profound impact on the region; the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking faster than glaciers in other parts of the world. Warming is more pronounced at elevations above 4000 masl, which has implications on fresh water resources.

He suggested four key messages for building a climate-resilient region and long-term adaption including:  livelihood diversification, disaster preparedness, climate risk assessment for infrastructure development, and improved management of natural resources. He also stressed the urgent need to share scientific knowledge to address the ‘knowledge gaps’ that currently exist in the region. He emphasised the importance of regional collaboration and sharing of implementation experiences to better understand transboundary and regional problems and to come up with better adaptation approaches.

Mr Nawang Norbu, Bhutan, presented the rationale for the proposed Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas, Bhutan 2011, and its links to the process, and the rationale for focusing on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayan region.

For further information contact:

Dr Madhav  Karki
Acting Director General
email: dir@icimod.org

Ms Nira Gurung
Communications Officer
email: info@icimod.org, ngurung@icimod.org