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International Mountain Day: Knowledge of street-smart Folk who live in Mountains, if combined with Research can develop effective responses to Climate Change

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries and is the source of 10 large Asian river systems

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Shimla, December 11, 2016: The knowledge of street-smart folk who live in the mountains, combined with research, can work together to develop effective responses to climate change and its impact on ecosystems and livelihoods, experts say.

There is potential to mobilise traditional knowledge to provide place-based evidence on climate change and its impact on ecosystems and livelihoods, said researchers Nawraj Pradhan and Abhimanyu Pandey of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

Similarly, local knowledge and research could work together to develop effective responses that sustain biological and cultural diversity for adaptation in future.

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“If managed well, various facets of tangible and intangible cultural heritage can be long-term assets. They can represent an innovative way of achieving sustainable development goals and, as such, produce better livelihoods, food and water security, and effective climate change mitigation efforts,” they said in a report, “Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity for Years”.

Pradhan is Associate Coordinator with Kailash Sacred landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, while Pandey is Cultural Services Analyst in the livelihood Theme.
The Paris Agreement of December 2015 recognises that adaptation actions should follow a “participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable communities and ecosystems”.

Mountains cover nearly 27 percent of the world’s land surface and directly support 22 percent of the world’s people. They serve as water towers to the world, providing for the freshwater needs of more than half of humanity.

The Hindu Kush Himalayas are one of the world’s most diverse mountains systems, spanning 4.3 million sq. km. of land across eight countries — from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

Over millennia, communities in these landscapes have maintained a close relationship with the natural resources and surroundings that provide their livelihoods.

The researchers said the mountains were not studied as cohesive systems, but in recent decades, research is providing a more holistic understanding of mountain environments, and how they contribute to overall human well-being in the context of social, economic and environmental changes.

The Hindu Kush Himalayas present some of the most austere geo-climatic conditions in the world, encompassing the barren wilds of the Tibetan Plateau, the cold semi-arid zones of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the sweltering rainforests of northeastern India and Myanmar.

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Such diverse climate, however, has not deterred vast migrations, interactions and evolution of human communities in the Hindu Kush Himalayas over the course of history.

Until recently, said the researchers, traditional knowledge and practices provided the basis for the well-being and livelihood of indigenous mountain communities.

Consequently, mountain communities enjoyed an intangible, even spiritual, connection to the elements of nature. However, in recent decades, global media connectivity and the inclusion of once far-distant regions into national planning has ushered in the forces of globalisation, consumerism and, often, top-down governance regimes.

This has accelerated the pace of change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, often upsetting the particularities of the mountains and their socio-ecological balance.

Of course, not all the change has been negative. Modern advances in healthcare, education and economic opportunity have improved mountain livelihoods and often worked to dissipate some oppressive traditional socio-economic hierarchies.

However, these advances have also caused some ruptures in traditional community fabrics and a loss of interest in preserving local knowledge and cultural traditions.

“Therefore, it’s critical for research institutions like ICIMOD to take a serious approach to understanding the traditional cultural worldviews of mountain communities,” the researchers said.

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The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries and is the source of 10 large Asian river systems, including the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra.

The basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population.

In India, the Hindu Kush Himalayas and adjacent mountain areas include 11 mountain states — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. (IANS)

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U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Disruptions

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 184 parties, including India, and entered into force in November 2016.

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Climate change, U.S.
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday said the world was in deep trouble and not doing enough or moving fast enough to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.

“Climate change is running faster than we are, and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” he said in his remarks at the official opening of the two-week long UN climate negotiations, known as COP24, that saw governments and delegates from nearly 200 countries in this Polish city.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with the climate change. For many, people, regions, and even countries, this is already a matter of life and death.

“This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed (in 2015),” he said.

He was categorically clear in saying “Our job here in Katowice is to finalise the Paris Agreement Work Programme — the rule book for implementation. I remind all parties that this is a deadline you set for yourselves.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres', climate
UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

The rule book will govern national pledges to keep the rise in global temperature to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and ensuring adequate finances to developing nations.

Climate experts told IANS that the priority outcome at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be the finalisation of the ‘Paris rule book’, a Bible for transparent implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement — the first global treaty to reduce emissions by all rich and poor nations.

The COP24 negotiations with the participation of more than 20,000 people from nearly 200 countries are going to be held in the backdrop of grim news on climate change from three UN environment bodies.

This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

“It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation. Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” Guterres said.

Climate change, emissions, Global Warming
U.N. Climate chief Patricia Espinosa (C) is flanked by officials during a press conference at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, VOA

“Nor are we doing enough to capitalize on the enormous social, economic and environmental opportunities of climate action.

“And so, I want to deliver four simple messages.”

First: Science demands a significantly more ambitious response, he said.

Second: The Paris Agreement provides the framework for action, so “we must operationalise it”.

Third: “We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos, to consolidate the financial commitments made in Paris and to assist the most vulnerable communities and nations.”

And fourth: Climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better.

“Let me turn first to science,” he said.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years.

Climate change, carbon
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows yellow-cedar trees growing along Sheep Lake east of the Cascade crest in Washington State. Adding and restoring forests is a cheap way to get substantial amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere, a new report says. VOA

The concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in three million years.

Emissions are now growing again.

The recent special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts.

“The latest UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report tells us that the current Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement will lead to global warming of about three degrees by the end of the century,” the Secretary-General said.

He said emissions must decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and be net zero by 2050.

Renewable energy will need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050 with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuels.

“We need to embrace low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development.”

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

Ensuring adequate finances to developing nations for sustainable low-emissions, he said: “Some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.”

“Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey. That means embracing carbon pricing, eliminating harmful fossil fuel subsidies and investing in clean technologies.

“We also have a collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries — such as small island nations and the least developed countries — by supporting adaptation and resilience.

“Making clear progress to mobilise the pledged $100 billion a year will provide a much-needed positive political signal,” the UN Secretary General said.

“I have appointed the President of France and the Prime Minister of Jamaica to lead the mobilisation of the international community, both public and private, to reach that target in the context of preparation of the Climate Summit I have convened in September of next year.”

“I also urge member states to swiftly implement the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. It is an investment in a safer, less costly future,” he added.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming: World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Poland is hosting a COP for the third time. The two previous COPs were held in Pozna (2008) and in Warsaw (2013). Poland also presided over a COP in Bonn in 1999.

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 184 parties, including India, and entered into force in November 2016.

The commitments contained in it include the annual $100 billion goal from donor nations for lower-income countries and develop national climate plans by 2020, including their self-determined goals and targets. (IANS)