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12 Nov 2021 | Press releases

The time to act is now: There are mountains of opportunity for climate action in the HKH

Nepal PM endorses, others states support framework to scale up climate smart investment in six mountain-specific priorities in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

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9 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

In a high-level event at the ongoing 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) introduced the ‘Mountains of Opportunity’ – an investment framework to enable partners to identify, align and scale up investment in mountain-specific climate priorities.

Taking forward the historical Ministerial Declaration on the HKH Call to Action agreed upon collectively by eight HKH countries in 2020, the investment framework aims to increase resources –  financial, technical and human, backed by enabling policy – to strengthen regional cooperation and deliver climate action at scale and with speed.

 

In a recorded video message, Rt. Hon’ble Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister, Government of Nepal, acknowledged the relevance of this investment framework and reminded the participants of the urgency for investment in mountain-specific climate priorities in the HKH. “I request the international community, financial institutions, and private sector to increase investment in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region to support the initiatives and the ambitions of regional member countries to reduce carbon emissions,” he appealed. He also highlighted the need to strengthen regional institutions like ICIMOD that focus on regional and cross border solutions.

Highlighting the importance of the HKH region, Dr Pema Gyamtsho, ICIMOD Director General, said, “We are here to ensure that the world hears about the crisis that the region is already facing and acknowledge that it may be too late if urgent actions are not taken now.” He further added, “The presence of our leaders from the region is testimony to the commitment of our regional member countries and shows that they mean business and that ‘business as usual’ is not going to be enough.”

 

As one of the three key messages under ICIMOD’s HKH2Glasgow campaign started in December 2020, the investment framework has been introduced as an instrument to articulate a collective mountain voice at COP26.  Introducing the framework, Nanki Kaur, Regional Programme Manager of the Adaptation and Resilience Building Regional Programme at ICIMOD introduced the key elements of the framework, and mentioned that the campaign was built around three key messages:

  1. Recognize and protect the HKH as the Pulse of the Planet
  2. Use the Mountains of Opportunity Framework to scale up investment in mountain-specific priorities, and
  3. Harness the Power of 8 HKH countries to leverage regional and international cooperation to deliver climate action at scale, with depth and speed.

H.E. Muhammad Shahab Uddin M. P., Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Bangladesh echoed the relevance of the 3 messages of the HKH2Glasgow campaign, and said, “We need to support ICIMOD’s campaign to amplify collective mountain voices and scale up investment in mountain specific climate priorities. This will enable HKH countries to address transboundary climate risks and transition into green, resilient and inclusive mountain society.”

H.E. Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan stressed on the need to have an understanding of common challenges and opportunities in the HKH region, and said “Bhutan will work with our HKH member countries to bring global attention for greater support in terms of investment and technologies to help the mountainous region and its people towards a journey of resilience, prosperity and a healthy environment.”

H.E. Ramsahay Prasad Yadav, Minister for Forests and Environment, Nepal complimented ICIMOD’s effort in bringing all HKH countries together and said there is a need for more cooperation and collaboration to save the mountains. “The Himalaya is the origin of our culture, traditions, values, religion and identity,” he added. He also made a special announcement showing Nepal’s commitment to climate ambition and action, to emit ‘no net’ carbon between 2022 and 2045 and become carbon negative after. His announcement also reiterated Nepal’s commitment to protect the climate vulnerable in Nepal from climate change and ensure that Loss and Damage issues are addressed at COP26.

Speaking on the vulnerability of the HKH region, H.E. Malik Amin Aslam, Minister, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan said, “The region will be subjected to the worst sort of heating in the years to come. It is absolutely imperative that we focus the funds for loss and damage and adaptation in this region.”

Acknowledging the spirit of the first message, honorable Rameshwar Prasad Gupta, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India said the HKH region is rightly called the barometer of climate change as its impacts can be very easily and discerningly felt in the region. “We support ICIMOD’s campaign to amplify a collective mountain voice and scale-up investments in mountains which shall enable countries to address transboundary climate risks and transition to green and resilient mountain societies,” he said.

Mr Sun Zhen, Deputy Director General of Climate Change Department, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China, stressed on the need for more research and said, “Good scientific observations from the region should feed into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to help in global understanding and efforts to tackle climate change.” Acknowledging the third message on the Power of 8, he said that the challenges in the region can only be solved through global cooperation. “We cannot help ourselves without helping each other – we need global solidarity,” he said.

Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, United States of America reflected on the relevance of institutions like ICIMOD and said that it serves a critical purpose in bringing cross boundary programmes to a central locus of discussion. “It provides a venue to exchange information and knowledge about the opportunities both to increase resilience and adaptation but at the same time, to consider ways we can reduce emissions within the countries themselves. That is going to be essential,” he said.

Ken O’Flaherty, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Asia-Pacific and South Asia shared a recent announcement made by UK on the launch of Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA) programme at Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day on 8 November. He added, “The CARA programme takes a regional approach to addressing shared environmental challenges, and will directly support ICIMOD in continuing its work to protect the unique ecology of the HKH region and take forward the ‘Mountains of Opportunity’ Investment Framework.

In his concluding remarks, Dr Gyamtsho thanked all the speakers and commended the excellent pledges of support made by the HKH countries and partners. He reiterated the importance of increased investment for climate action, while stressing the need for more regional cooperation. “It is leadership that will drive our efforts to protect the ‘pulse of the planet’ and show ways to scale-up investment in mountain-specific climate priorities,” he said.

Supported by an analysis of mountain-specific priorities reflected in the HKH country climate action plans and COVID-recovery measures, the HKH2Glasgow campaign developed its core messages with inputs from eight countries, and also worked closely with the COP26 Presidency since December 2020 to amplify the messages.

= = = NOTES TO THE EDITOR = = =

#HKH2Glasgow – ICIMOD’s campaign to COP26

As a part of this campaign, ICIMOD participated in several key meetings this November in Glasgow, UK, during the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the UN Climate Change Conference. At this global gathering, ICIMOD organized events at the Cryosphere Pavilion as a part of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) Focus Day on 9 November 2021, including several other events in collaboration with partners.

As an intergovernmental organization with observer status accorded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ICIMOD also closely observed the main proceedings and negotiations that took place during the plenary sessions.

The list of all ICIMOD engagements at the COP26 is available here.

More information about the HKH2Glasgow campaign is available here: www.icimod.org/cop26

Recording of this high-level event is available here.

For further queries, please contact

Maxim Shrestha

Media officer
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal
Email: maxim.shrestha@icimod.org
ICIMOD Media Unit: media@icimod.org
Mobile: +977 9840128334

Contact at COP26, Glasgow, UK

Udayan Mishra

Knowldge Management and Networking Officer, ICIMOD
Email: udayan.mishra@icimod.org
UK number: +07376192931

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