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2 Jan 2015 | Climate change

Good science a must to address climate change in the HKH region

Speaking at the Sixth People’s SAARC Conference organized by the Nepal Chapter of Nature-Human Centric People’s Movement in Kathmandu, Nepal on 17-18 November 2014, Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, noted that the mountain systems of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, which spans six SAARC member countries and two non-SAARC countries, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

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Inauguration of the newly established FABKA secretariat in Kathmandu. ICIMOD, 2019.

He issued a call for enhanced transboundary cooperation to address climate change in the HKH region.

“Green house gas emissions, and black carbon have, in their own ways, contributed to climate change, resulting in the rapid melting of glaciers and formation of glacial lakes in the HKH region, some of which pose risks to downstream populations,” Dr Molden said, showing slides to illustrate how dramatically the Rongbuk glacier in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China has retreated over the last 86 years.
“Climate change is not only affecting glacier dynamics, but also monsoon precipitation patterns with implications for water, food, and energy security across the region.”
He said that there is general consensus among scientists that climate change will likely lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events such as floods, droughts, and heat spells in the future.
 “Generating good science on how climate change and other drivers are impacting the mountain communities and ecosystems is a must to address climate change in the HKH region,” he said.
Describing the HKH region as a ‘global asset’, he added that it is not only the source of ten major river systems of Asia – lifeline to over 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population – but also home to incredibly rich human, cultural, and biological diversity.
Dr Molden called on all those present at the conference to help draw the international community’s attention to the HKH region in order to address the many challenges associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Responding to comments from the audience, Dr Molden said that the West must indeed do more to help countries like Nepal that bear the brunt of climate change impacts despite their negligible contribution to climate change. On the question of water disputes between India and Bangladesh, he said that concerned authorities of the two countries should initiate dialogue to resolve them.
Besides climate change, the conference, also covered other topics such as corruption, unemployment, and rule of law. The two-day conference was inaugurated by Honorable Finance Minister of Nepal, Dr Ram Sharan Mahat.

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