ICIMOD in Paris UNFCCC COP21

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Launching of the ‘The Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas: Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in Five of Asia’s Major River Basins’
Photo: Udayan Mishra, /ICIMOD

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) highlighted a range of climate change-related issues and their impact on the ecosystem of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region at UNFCCC COP21 in Paris this past month.

ICIMOD’s exhibit booth was packed with information displaying climate change impacts, vulnerability policy measures, adaptation actions focusing on mountains, and featured videos and documentaries on thematic issues. 

ICIMOD contributed to the side event, ’Making an Integrated Approach to Air Pollution and Climate Change a Reality in Asia’, which included experts from Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), ICIMOD, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and Ministry of Environment, Bangladesh. The event highlighted ICIMOD’s efforts in establishing observatories in Bhutan and Nepal — including networking with China and India — for better transboundary monitoring of air pollutants, including black carbon.

Together with the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), ICIMOD hosted two side events on the theme of REDD+, and Himalayan Ecosystem and featured representatives of Hindu Kush Himalayan countries who shared their experiences and progress towards the readiness phase of REDD+. 

The Himalayan Ecosystem side event reiterated the need to establish a monitoring network for the Himalayan environment to assess freshwater resources and the health of the ecosystem. 

During the Global Landscapes Forum, ICIMOD — being a member of the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA) — participated in an open discussion forum on climate-smart agriculture. Dr Eklabya Sharma, ICIMOD’s Director of Programme Operations, shared ICIMOD’s climate smart village as a success story, an approach jointly implemented by the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED) in Nepal, which includes social, economic and ecological dimensions of development. The success of these interventions are directly attributed to the involvement of women and the farmer user groups. Intervention uses local resources, links with local government schemes and includes local knowledge in the formulation and the implementation of the programme.

The launch of The Declaration on Agricultural Diversification could not have been more timely, especially when the world’s eyes were turned towards Paris for the much needed new hope for humankind’s continued survival on Earth. Agricultural diversification provides an opportunity to make a profound impact on the quality of life where mountain farming households of whom the majority tills less than one hectare of land. Mountain farmers have adopted risk-averting and risk-spreading strategies that have led to complex and diversified farming systems, using different resources like cropland, pastures, and forests at different altitudes and at different times of the year. 

ICIMOD applauds the leadership of Crops for the Future, and appreciates the role of the AIRCA in carrying this forward. ICIMOD fully supports the Paris Declaration on Agricultural Diversity and the Global Action Plan for Agricultural Diversity. I was honoured to be one the signers of the declaration.

ICIMOD’s Direcctor General, David Molden delivered a speech on the important role mountains play in water, energy, and food security during a High Level Segment (HLS). 

‘Ironically, mountain communities around the world live in a dichotomy of sorts. On the one hand, mountains provide tremendous ecosystem services to regulate climate, and on the other, mountains experience the most severe effects of climate change that affect ecosystems, agriculture, and livelihoods’, Molden said. ‘That’s why the vulnerability of these fragile mountains to the impacts of climate change has to be at the heart of global climate debate. On our part, institutions like ICIMOD will continue to build coalitions across the areas of science, policy, and practice, and build strong partnerships at all levels to invest in mitigation and adaptation measures targeting the most vulnerable groups living in the poorest and the most inaccessible pockets of the Hindu Kush Himalayas’.

ICIMOD launched the ‘The Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas: Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in Five of Asia’s Major River Basins’ initiative, jointly with GRID-Arendal and the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo (CICERO). The first of its kind, the atlas offers a comprehensive, regional understanding of the changing climate and its impact on water resources in five of the major river basins in the region – the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Salween and Mekong. It uses maps and infographics to show how the region’s climate is changing now and into the future, with severe consequences for populations, both local and downstream. 

This Atlas sheds light on the state and fate of the water resources of the Hindu Kush Himalayas, a region that is highly vulnerable to climate change and one of the poorest regions in the world. The information in the Atlas presents science-based information that will help develop solutions and take the necessary action to deal with changes in the region.