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David James Molden
4 mins Read
The world united around the slogan “Beat Plastic Pollution” on World Environment Day. The slogan, motivated by increasing awareness of the vast volume of plastic – discarded, bottles, bags, straws, and discarded items – that reach the world’s oceans, draws attention to the impact of plastic on aquatic life. Let us take a moment to reflect on the relevance of the theme to our mountains.
As mountain areas change, as manufactured goods and visitors from outside flood mountain villages, towns, and trekking routes in increasing numbers, many places find themselves overwhelmed by indiscriminately discarded garbage. From the kora around Mt Kailash to the slopes of Mt Everest, the natural beauty of these landscapes are blighted by unsightly piles of wrappers, bottles, bags, and other garbage. The problem is even more acute in our cities.
Some of the garbage from our mountain areas make it into our river systems and eventually to the oceans. The bits that stay behind in the mountains also cause severe problems – ranging from local soil and water pollution to dangerously high levels of air pollution resulting from emissions caused by burning plastics. Unfortunately, the practice of setting piles of garbage on fire is very common in the region and often done in the mornings and evenings when smoke spreads horizontally, into homes and lungs. Burning plastic releases large quantities of toxins as well as black carbon, as we recently discovered in a study coordinated by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Black carbon warms the atmosphere and contributes to the melting of Himalayan glaciers and snowfields.
The problem and its solutions can be found at several levels. First, garbage is poorly managed in many of our communities. Compostable and non-compostable materials are not separated. Collection is unreliable and insufficient, so that much of the garbage ends up piled on street sides where they burned. That garbage that is collected often ends up in poorly managed landfills that leach out dirty water and emit large amounts of methane into the air, which also contributes to climate warming. ICIMOD’s Transboundary Landscape Programme has been working with communities around Mt Kailash to set up locally managed garbage management and sanitation solutions.
Second, there is a strong need for increased awareness and behavioural change. The theme for World Environment Day this year discourages single-use plastic items. There are easy alternatives to using disposable cups, plates, cutlery, and straws, and plastic shopping bags. It usually takes very little effort for someone to use a more sustainable alternative. What is needed is awareness and a willingness to change habits.
Third, businesses can steer people towards more sustainable behaviour through their products and pricing. Often, the amount of packaging on any product can easily be decreased without compromising the product itself. Hotels can provide bulk shampoo instead of small single-use bottles. Increasing numbers of shops do not give out plastic bags for free anymore.
Fourth, local and national governments have a lot of power to change individuals’ behaviours to decrease the production of plastic waste. Increasing numbers of places are banning single-use plastic and plastic bags outright while in other places, governments have mandated that consumers pay extra for them.
As an intergovernmental organization working on issues of environment and sustainability from the high Himalaya all the way down to the oceans, ICIMOD needs to set an example. As we mark World Environment Day, ICIMOD bans all single-use plastic and all open fires from the ICIMOD campus as well as from all ICIMOD-organized events. We encourage all ICIMOD staff to pledge to do the same in their homes.
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今年是《生物多样性公约》生效第25周年。今年“国际生物多样性 日”庆祝的主题是“生物多样性保护：行动的 25 年”。
在过去的 25 年中，兴都库什喜马拉雅地区各个国家的山区生物多样性保护工作一直受益于 《生物多样性公约》等全球环境治理机制。尽管实现《生物多样性公约》的国家和全球目标仍是 巨大的挑战，对我们来说今年的“国际生物多样性日”是一个承前启后、继往开来的时刻。
兴都库什喜马拉雅地区是 2.4 亿人口的家园，并为占世界四分之一人口的 19 亿人提供水资 源。位于该地区的喜马拉雅、印缅、中国西南山区以及中亚山区历来就是紧密联系的跨境生物多 样性热点地区。这些热点地区为 30 亿人口的生计提供支持并保障他们的粮食安全，而这 30 亿人 口中包含了部分世界上最贫困及弱势的人群。
尊重兴都库什喜马拉雅地区生命的多样性及着眼于人民的福祉一直以来作为核心理念主导着 国际山地综合发展中心的工作，中心跨境景观保护与发展项目的各项行动就是最好的证明。通过 ...
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