Workshop Held In Bhutan To Tackle Climate Change In The Hindu Kush Himalayan Regions

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“Bhutan had great examples such as promoting organic farming, protecting biodiversity and building ecosystem resilience.”

Tsorim lake. (Source: Doug Beecroft)

 

By Tshering Palden Kuensel

Last week, the International Centre on Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) officials conducted a daylong workshop in Thimphu to develop a call for action; to spur countries to pick up pace with climate-friendly measures.

The ICIMOD launched a scientific report – the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) Assessment: Climate Change, Sustainability and People, earlier this year.

The assessment was carried out with the aim of establishing the global significance of the HKH and to reduce scientific uncertainty on various mountain issues among others. The report tells us that the HKH-mountains and the biodiversity are global assets.

 

Graphic: Slideshare/Dr Robert Zomer

 

ICIMOD’s Director General, David Molden (PhD) said that the report brings together all kinds of information and recommendations.

“For us what is important is to go beyond the publications and translate the science or findings into action,” David Molden (PhD) said.

How climate change is affecting the highlanders?

Many highlanders are moving out of the mountains as the climactic conditions deteriorate. 

If the world fails to take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions, the mountainous region of the HKH is going to lose more than one-third of its ice by the end of 2100.

“This is a highly vulnerable situation for instance, socio-economic changes leading to challenges for the highland people, as there is a higher degree of poverty in the mountain areas,” he said.

On top of the vulnerable situation, there is the lingering issue of climate change.

“We are way off the 1.5 degree Celsius that we agreed in Paris and if we continue the present trend of greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures in mountains are likely to go up to 5 degrees by 2100,” said David Molden (PhD).

 

Photo: Druk Asia

 

However, he explained that in spite of these changes there are also lots of opportunities such as eco-tourism which can help to safeguard biodiversity, and other high-value products.

The role that Bhutan can play in spearheading action against climate change

Bhutan can play a strong role as a leader in the discussions and participants at the workshop charted out what Bhutan needs to do.

“Bhutan had great examples such as promoting organic farming, protecting biodiversity and building ecosystem resilience,” the director said.

According to David Molden (PhD), ICIMOD member countries need to come together and raise their concerns as one ‘mountain people’ at the UN Summit on Climate Change in September and other international forums.

Rinzin Dorji, the Agriculture Secretary said that the country has already embarked upon climate resilient agriculture and climate smart measures have also been initiated.

“For instance, our irrigation schemes are being changed from normal surface canals to piped irrigation. With flash floods becoming frequent, the old irrigation infrastructure are washed away and farming affected,” he said.

Rinzin Dorji emphasised that Bhutan is placed high among the ICIMOD member countries because of its strong conservation policies and exemplary leadership.

“Climate course are introduced in colleges, land is managed with terracing, seeds resistant to cold and drought are also being propagated.”

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


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