The Arctic and the Hindu Kush Himalaya Face Similar Challenges and Opportunities

   TwitCount

The Arctic and Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) are both climate change hotspots facing similar challenges related to high latitude and high altitude ecosystems. Both regions contend with air pollution, cryospheric change, and natural resource degradation, and both regions have large indigenous populations that are disproportionately affected by these challenges. 

Last week, during a side event at the 23rd session of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany, experts and representatives from these regions stressed the urgent need for sustainable development and environmental protection, which can be achieved through successful collaboration between the respective regional countries. 


David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD, listens to media representatives from Myanmar
Photo: Udayan Mishra / ICIMOD

Citing similarities between the Arctic and the HKH, David Molden, Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), said, “Both regions have established regional collaboration institutions. In the Arctic, this work is conducted through the Arctic Council, which serves as a high-level intergovernmental forum to address issues facing the countries and indigenous peoples of the Arctic. In the HKH, ICIMOD, also an intergovernmental organization, serves the countries and mountain people of the region as a knowledge development and learning centre.”

Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary, Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE), Government of Nepal
Photo: Udayan Mishra / ICIMOD

Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary at Nepal’s Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) emphasized the importance for upstream-downstream interactions in the 10 large river basins of the HKH. These basins are home to approximately two billion people, including 240 million who live in upstream mountains and hills. “The impact of climate change on glaciers, snow, and ice in the mountains of the HKH requires more extensive research, both in situ and through remote sensing. This can provide a good foundation for regional collaboration,” he said. 

Philippus Wester, HIMAP Coordinator at ICIMOD moderates the discussion
Photo: Udayan Mishra / ICIMOD

Inspired by the success of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), a working group of the Arctic Council, ICIMOD is currently coordinating a comprehensive assessment of the HKH region, conducted as part of the larger Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP). Philippus Wester, HIMAP Coordinator and Chief Scientist, Water Resources Management at ICIMOD said, “HIMAP brings together hundreds of scientists and policy experts to create an evidence-based, comprehensive assessment, which will greatly assist in addressing threats, acting on opportunities, and scaling cutting edge approaches.”

Participants discuss the way forward
Photo: Udayan Mishra / ICIMOD

The participants agreed that the range of adaptation innovations and solutions in the HKH, frequently pioneered by the region’s inhabitants on the ground, also provide good opportunities for exchange and collaboration between the eight countries of the region.

Strengthening the interactions and interfaces between science, policy, and practice is becoming increasingly urgent in the face of accelerated warming in the mountains and hills of the HKH. The session participants recommended that ICIMOD take the lead in organizing regular regional Science-Policy Dialogues, as an important mechanism to work towards the establishment of an HKH Science-Policy Forum. 

Participants at the event
Photo: ICIMOD

These discussion took place on 11 November during a side event at the Pakistan Pavilion in the Bonn Zone, COP23 venue. The aim of the event was to strengthen exchange and collaboration between the Arctic and HKH. The event was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), Government of Pakistan and ICIMOD. Other speakers at the event included Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary to the Government of Pakistan, MoCC, Bruce Currie-Alder, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, and government and media representatives from Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan.

ICIMOD’s delegation is at the COP23 in Bonn, Germany organizing and attending various activities. For a complete list of events, please visit our dedicated webpage for COP23: www.icimod.org/cop23. For any questions, please write to Udayan Mishra: Udayan.Mishra@icimod.org

Udayan Mishra