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A comparative assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, Andes, and Alps
Mountain Knowledge and Action Network (MKAN)
07 April 2021 to
09 April 2021
Chi Huyen Truong
Organizers: Jointly sponsored by ICIMOD’s Himalayan University Consortium and the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), and coordinated by the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
The impacts of climate change in mountain regions are accentuated by elevation-dependent warming and precipitation variability higher than in other regions, coupled with greater dependence of mountain communities on local sources of energy and other resources. Energy systems are central to climate change both as drivers and responses. The development and use of energy resources, particularly fossil fuels, are the principal causes of global warming. At the same time, climate-change impacts across a range of social and ecological systems require mitigation and adaptation in which less carbon-intensive energy uses play a central role. Especially in mountain regions, energy-use alternatives can be constrained due to inadequate infrastructure, remoteness, and reliance on traditional forms of energy that may be difficult to diversify.
This workshop, jointly sponsored by ICIMOD’s Himalayan University Consortium and the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), and coordinated by the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, is a community-led activity bringing together experts including young professionals to connect and synthesize existing data, information, publications, and/or other forms of knowledge to provide new insights on the state of mountains and renewable energy transitions in a global context.
This virtual workshop aims to synthesize current understanding and address future challenges related to energy transitions in mountain regions with an emphasis on renewable energy in the context of climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya, Andes, and Alps.
Forty workshop participants from all three regions, half of them women, will address current challenges in mountain regions related to climate change impacts on energy systems with an emphasis on renewables and transitions towards carbon neutrality as well as to present and discuss adaptation solutions by mountain communities and economic sectors.
Time: 19:45–22:15 (NPT), 16:00–18:30 (CEST), 07:00–09:30 (U.S. MST)
Carolina Adler, Mountain Research Initiative (MRI)
Biraj Singh Thapa, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kathmandu University
Carolina Adler, Executive Director, Mountain Research Initiative (MRI)
Chi Huyen Truong (Shachi), Program coordinator, Himalayan University Consortium (HUC)
Christopher Scott, Director, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and Professor, School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona
Daniel Viviroli, Research group leader, Mountain Hydrology in Hydrology & Climate unit, Department of Geography, University of Zurich
Elke Kellner, Postdoctoral researcher, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Fabian Drenkhan, RAHU Project, Imperial College London
Kasvi Singh, Master’s student, Economics (specializing in Environmental and Resource Economics), TERI School of Advanced Studies
Medha Bisht, Senior Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, South Asian University
Padmendra Shrestha, PhD student, School of Geography, Development & Environment, University of Arizona
Sarala Khaling, Regional Director, Eastern Himalaya/Northeast India, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE), India
Sebastián Riera Yankeliovich, Postdoctoral researcher AACREA-CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo
Sebastián Vicuña, Director, Centro de Cambio Global, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Pontificia Universidad, Católica de Chile
The workshops served to highlight lessons learned and ways forward, drawing on multiple perspectives of researchers, practitioners, agencies and NGOs in an effort to bridge the experiences and challenges of critical mountain regions globally.
Challenges include: supply diversification including carbon neutrality and beyond; demand management (including consumptive and productive energy uses and associated equity concerns); energy justice with equity in access and inclusive decision-making; climate resilience for carbon mitigation with transformative adaptation.
Hydropower in an energy system uniquely identified with mountain. How is this understood in transition terms (as bridge energy to low-impact renewables, or low/zero-carbon alternative to fossil fuels, or both, or other)? The scale of hydropower (and siting on smaller streams within a basin-wide perspective) vs. long-term feasibility of HP plants is critically important. Hydropower should not be thought of just as government projects but needs to include local control and ownership. The planning stage of hydropower development must move toward implementation, with special attention to operations and maintenance, rural power supply, environmental protection, relocation/resettlement with social equity and rural revitalization.
Governance of energy transitions involves, among other factors, decision-making, decentralization, risk impact and assessment. Overcoming energy poverty will require expanded access, localization, and community-centered development with emphasis on sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development frameworks.