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Urgent steps are required to sustain mountain environments and improve livelihoods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).
The HKH is a vital regional lifeline, but human drivers and climate change pose grave and immediate threats to the region’s livelihoods, biodiversity, and ultimately sustainability. Changes on the rooftop of the world are having and will continue to have major consequences, not only for the region but globally. Local, national, regional, and global actions are urgently needed to sustain this global asset, focusing on substantially increased investments and more robust regional cooperation for sustaining mountain environments and improving livelihoods in the HKH and concerted action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100.
The HKH Assessment and the resulting HKH Call to Action reflect five years of research, review, and analysis. The report was drafted in response to requests from governments in the region – meeting a demand for a comprehensive assessment of the region’s mountains, environments and livelihoods, and their status and their future. The HKH Call to Action has been developed as a roadmap based on the key findings of the HKH Assessment report and it articulates six urgent actions.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report-4 announced that climate change will be the most prominent force of global change in the modern era and that the HKH region is seen as ‘a data gap’ area, lacking consistent long-term monitoring. The report calls for national, regional and global attention towards filling this data gap. Unfortunately, not much progress has been reported in IPCC 2014 AR-5 on the HKH region in this regard. While initial progress has been made by universities, NGOs, and science organizations in the region, in assembling and consolidating existing data, the information remains too fragmented and incomplete to derive any meaningful conclusions about trends and scenarios. The need for an evidence-based assessment which brings together hundreds of scientists and policy experts persists. A comprehensive assessment could greatly assist in addressing threats, acting on opportunities, and scaling cutting edge approaches.
HKH Call to Action
Take actions at national, regional and international scales to sustain the Hindu Kush Himalaya as a global asset. Build momentum on more robust regional cooperation for bringing higher investment in sustaining mountain environments and improving livelihoods in the HKH. Nurture and strengthen people to people, business to business and government to government cooperation and trust building in the region. Promote the HKH Science-Policy Forum as a platform for knowledge exchange, stakeholder engagement including science-policy, and regional cooperation.
Strength of mountains lies in the diversity of people and cultures that should be valued and respected. Collectively define the HKH mountain agenda with inputs from all stakeholders from the eight HKH countries. Strengthen the national, regional and global voice for the HKH region and its people, including indigenous groups. Promote actions that lead to gender equality and inclusive development. Promote resilience of mountain communities by supporting the diversity of cultures, situations, and systems. Support “The HKH Calling” for cooperation on mountain issues and solutions. Promote mountain champions and leadership, and encourage networks and alliances.
Promote global recognition of HKH as hotspot of climate change and sustainable development. The challenges faced by the HKH due to the impacts of climate change are urgent and need to drive mitigation efforts globally and adaptation regionally. Take concerted action at regional, national and local levels on sharply reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), reduce biomass burning and promote clean energy solutions. Achieve carbon neutral societies in the mountains and hills of the HKH region by 2035 by providing opportunities, incentives and compensation mechanisms. Use both North to South and South to South cooperation to develop concerted climate action for the HKH region.
Nine mountain priorities consistent with SDGs should be mainstreamed in each of the eight countries SDG action and reporting. National governments in the HKH region to promote use of multi-dimensional poverty measures. Enable mountain specific policies and development pathways that are pro-poor, and gender and socially inclusive. Adaptation to climate change should be top priority as it is cross- cutting with multiple SDGs; draw more investments for adaptation in the HKH. Labor migration within (rural- urban) and outside from the HKH is huge and needs to be mainstreamed into development and adaptation.
Promote incentives and means for mountain communities to conserve and manage ecosystems for improving their livelihoods. Implement programs on freshwater ecosystems including cryosphere, watersheds and springsheds adopting river- basin management in transboundary scale. Sustainably managing forests, rangelands and other ecosystems in the HKH through promoting transboundary cooperation for landscapes and river basins in the context of climate change. Build biodiversity information systems for better planning; adopt approaches to conserve and wise use of biodiversity including the development of highly remunerative biodiversity products; address illegal trade.
Fill data gaps and develop actionable knowledge that is mountain focused and HKH specific. Foster cooperation and capacity building on data generation methodologies for consistent, disaggregated, timely and quality data on range of issues. Data generation and sharing underpins many topics but there are urgency for new data on climate variables, air pollution, water, energy, food security, biodiversity. Proactively promote HKH-wide cooperation in open data sharing for public good and services. Promote and make use of ICIMOD’s Regional Database System