More than 250 experts, policy makers, government officials, journalists and youth convened in Kathmandu this week to discuss climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. After sharing studies and experiences about climate change in the region, they discussed ways to combine their efforts to create meaningful action against the impacts of rising temperatures and other climate change effects.
This International Conference was organized by the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the participants explored a range of topics from climate financing and mountain communities to the social and business implications of climate change.
During the four-day conference, opinions differed among participants about what courses of action to take. But there was wide consensus about the need for regional cooperation, multi-stakeholder partnership, and scientific data to generate consequential, evidenced-based policy and climate action at all levels of government in the HKH.
The conference was the first IPCC outreach event in Nepal, and featured a special youth-focused workshop on the first day in collaboration with the Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) and the Climate Alliance of Himalayan Communities (CAHC) as well as a media workshop. It brought together participants from all ICIMOD Regional Member Countries.
During the conference, IPCC scientists presented data and answered questions related to the 5th Assessment Report cycle. This report presented compelling and comprehensive evidence that human influence on the climate system is clear and the more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts. Despite this grim outlook, the IPCC also concludes that we have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future. The International Conference provided pathways for the 6th Assessment Report process and established linkages between the HKH and the IPCC bringing science into policy and practice.
Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary MoPE communicated Nepal’s commitment to climate action and mitigation. He emphasized the country’s efforts to promote climate-smart development, focusing on adaptation and mitigation efforts. Dr. Min Bahadur Shrestha, the Vice-Chairman of Nepal’s National Planning Commission, further emphasized that “Sustainable mountain development should be high on the development agenda for countries in the region.”
Mr. Basanta Shrestha, ICIMOD’s Director of Strategic Cooperation, also noted the importance of communicating and promoting the mountain agenda for the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report cycle and highlighted the role of the mountain youth, “Since youth are our future, they need to be involved in the debates so they can be well informed about climate science and fully engage as change agents at the local, national and international levels.”
As the IPCC enters its 6th Assessment Report cycle, it is critically important that national and regional assessment and reporting contribute to the reporting process. ICIMOD’s Director General, Dr. David Molden, focused on the potential for HKH countries to pool their resources and efforts to create a larger singular voice for mountain people. “Mountain countries, like island states,” Molden told the audience, “can create a shared voice in climate negotiations to influence others to work together to reduce emissions.”
Positioned to contribute directly to the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report cycle, ICIMOD has led the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) which brings together hundreds of scientists and policy experts from the region and around the world to address knowledge gaps in the HKH and chart a way forward. Dr. Philippus Wester, HIMAP Coordinator, explains that “The HIMAP comprehensive assessment goes beyond climate change to assist with efforts to address threats, act on opportunities, and scale up cutting-edge approaches.” The publication of the first Comprehensive Assessment of the HKH in 2017 is planned as a wide-ranging, innovative evaluation of the current state of knowledge in the region and of various drivers of change and their impacts. The assessment will also put forth a set of policy recommendations aimed at improving legislative action related to climate change throughout the HKH.