2020–2030 is an important decade for climate action. At COP26, Parties to the UNFCCC will communicate their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to limit warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; increase their ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change; and make finance flows consistent with climate-resilient and low-carbon development pathways.
The HKH region, which is spread across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan is the pulse of the planet. With 18.23% of its landmass under snow cover, the HKH has the largest reserves of ice outside the polar regions. It is home to four global biodiversity hotspots and contains the headwaters of 10 major Asian river systems. What happens in this region affects the livelihoods of 240 million people living in the mountains, and 1.65 billion people living downstream. Together, the HKH provides essential resources, especially water and ecosystem services, to close to 2 billion people – or one-fourth of humanity.
The HKH region is also a climate hotspot. In a 1.5oC world, glaciers in the HKH are projected to lose one-third of their volume by 2100. This will exacerbate climate-induced disasters in the region and have negative impacts on river flows and lives and livelihoods in the region and beyond.
Therefore, the race to resilience and the race to zero must deliver ambitious climate action in this region.
In a landmark event, the eight HKH countries signed the Ministerial Declaration and launched the HKH Call to Action during the HKH Ministerial Mountain Summit 2020 – signalling their commitment to sustain mountain environments and improve livelihoods in the HKH. This historic declaration highlights the need for regional collaboration and ambitious climate action to limit global warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C by 2100 and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The clock is ticking, particularly for the HKH, as it hurtles towards an irreversible climate crisis. The Pulse of the Planet is becoming weaker.
The COVID-19 and climate crises are monumental global challenges. But when tackled in tandem through the prism of sustainable and resilient development…
In the truest of senses, the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is the pulse of the planet. Being on top of the world, changes happen here before they happen anywhere else.