Climate Change: What it means to Nepal?
As defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer). Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcing, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Magnitude and scale of climate change can be experienced in a particular region or at a global scale that affects the whole earth. In recent practices, especially in the context of international environmental deals, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate, more preciously ‘anthropogenic climate change’, more generally known as global warming. IPCC concludes that most of the observed temperature increases since the middle of the 20th century was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases(GHG) resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation. It also concludes that variations in natural phenomena such as solar radiation and volcanism produced most of the warming from pre-industrial times to 1950 and had a small cooling effect afterward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries (, 16 December 2011).
According to ICIMOD, mountains cover around 24% of the Earth’s land surface and host about 13% of the world population. Mountains are the providers of essential ecosystem services and play the role of water towers to billions of people living in downstream slopes, valleys and plains – directly and indirectly. In Asia, the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) mountain system, also referred to as the third pole, contains the largest volume of snow and ice outside the polar region. The Hindu Kush-Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Pamir, and Atlas mountain systems all play a critical role. As a source of water flows and river systems, the world’s mountain watersheds support livelihoods and food security for almost half of the global population. Since the mountains are experiencing much higher rate of warming, they will be affected very badly and within relatively very short period of time. For the mountainous countries like Nepal, this finding may act as warning signal as things are changing so fast over relatively slow pace of development of preventive and adaptive measures.
: Realising the fact that despite significant role of mountain ecosystems, the mountain agenda is not addressed adequately by the UNFCCC deliberations to reflect the needs of mountain livelihoods and environments the Prime Minister of Nepal in his address to COP 15 said: “I therefore take this opportunity to call on all the mountain countries and stakeholders to come together, form a common platform and make sure that mountain concerns get due attention in the international deliberations. Let us make sure that our interests are prominently represented in future COP negotiations and let us make sure that our efforts towards adaptation obtain the required international support.” This initiative is known as Mountain Initiative (MI). A technical meeting of MI was organised in September 2010 by ICIMOD in support of GoN. To take this momentum at next level the GoN is now preparing to host a Ministerial Meeting of Mountainous Countries in Kathmandu, Nepal from 5-6 April 2012. Let’s wish good luck to this marvellous attempt of Nepal!
: Similarly India has also launched Indian Mountain Initiative (InMI) to ensure sustainable mountain development across Indian Himalayas, especially in the context of climate change. Led by the Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA), Nainital, IMI had its Inaugural meeting on 21 May 2011 at the Uttarakhand Academy of Administration (). ICIMOD has been providing technical input in promoting this idea since the preparation of the Inaugural meeting.
(2010 onwards): Bhutan Climate Summit for a Living Himalaya was successfully convened in Thimphu on 19 November 2011 with the aim of promoting technical cooperation among four participating countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian and Nepal. The Summit was successful in developing and agreeing a road map for adapting climate change in the Himalayas, particularly across the southern face of the Eastern Himalayas; highlighting the issues of climate change and its impacts on the Himalayas; fostering partnership and networking to facilitate sharing of information and experience; and in lobbying for bringing attention to the impacts of climate change on the world mountains. Prior to the main summit there were several rounds of thematic and technical meetings co-organised by Government of Bhutan and its technical partner ICIMOD in 2010 and 2011 to develop issue level understanding among the participating countries. ICIMOD, being a regional intergovernmental organisation working in all four countries partnering for this initiative has agreed to provide input since the beginning who organised the first meeting in this series in August 2010 at Godavari the Village Resort, Kathmandu, Nepal.
(4 December 2011): ICIMOD participated in the recently concluded COP17, Durban, in a substantive way, leading an international team to organise the first ever Mountain Day on the sidelines of COP17. The rationale and objectives of the event were to a) highlight the urgent need to raise awareness and sensitise UNFCCC COP17 delegates on the implications of climate change in the mountain regions; b) to share the emergence of stronger scientific evidence and implications; and c) to stress the need for policy actions to ensure the critical contribution of mountain ecosystems in climate change adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. In this regard, ICIMOD joined hands with its global partners particularly GIZ, the World Bank (WB), The Mountain Partnership Secretariat, and UNEP.
: Formed in 1996 and 2002 (respectively as follow up to ‘Rio Summit’ and World Summit for Sustainable Development -WSSD), MF and MP are global initiatives advocating Mountain Agenda internationally in partnership with key regional and global initiatives on mountains. In the Asia- Pacific region, these initiatives are managed by the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN) – a knowledge sharing platform connecting mountain regions and communities through dialogue and networking. Managed by the ICIMOD, APMN captures, enriches, and disseminates information on mountain development issues in and for the Asia-Pacific region. APMN acts as the Asia-Pacific node of Mountain Forum (MF) and decentralised Mountain Partnership Asia-Pacific Hub, and has shared resources including dedicated web page, experts database, e-dialogue platform, thematic and geographic discussion lists, online library, calendar of events, survey and e-election tool. APMN also publishes biannual Asia Pacific Mountain Courier, occasional e-dialogue synthesis reports, mountain development briefs and publicity materials.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article are taken from various websites and publications and wherever possible the source is quoted. This article was originally published on http://hamrakura.com on 3 January 2011.
Mahat, T.J. (2012), 'Climate Change: What it means to Nepal'. Hamrakura, Nepal. Available at http://hamrakura.com/en/?p=4924 .