As the world waits to hear from the United Nations climate change talks beginning this week, the countries of the Eastern Himalayas made a headstart on a regional plan to adapt to climate change.
Climate change is melting the Himalayas at a faster pace than in any other time in recorded human history. Impacts on these mountains go beyond rapid snow melt and glacier lake outburst floods. The freshwater source of millions of people in South Asia and their livelihoods is at risk. So is the diversity in many wild species, including tigers, rhinos, red pandas and snow leopards.
High-level government officials from Bhutan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh signed a regional climate change adaptation declaration at a two-day Climate Summit for Living Himalayas in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu in November 2011.
Highlights in the agreement include:
- Energy Security: Increase access to affordable and reliable clean energy resources and technology
- Freshwater: Emphasize water security through collaborative ecosystem and disaster management
- Food Security: Promote systems that help vulnerable communities gain better access to nutritious food, and
- Biodiversity: Create linked conservation spaces for communities and endangered species such as the snow leopard.
“The success of our initiative will not only have direct and immediate benefits for our own people, but we could be setting a worthy precedent for other countries that share similar conditions,” said Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley.
Prime Minister Thinley also made an urgent call to create a new global economic paradigm to take the value of natural capital, ecosystem services, and social well-being into account for a sustainable future.
WWF played a vital role in shaping this summit, bringing together various players across the region and internationally. With more than 40 years of conservation history in the Eastern Himalayas, WWF is committed to helping save nature by working closely with grassroots and governments.