As the climate change talks comes to an end in Cancun without any positive signs, the mountain communities of the world and the United Nations joined hands to warn of the devastating impact of global warming in the mountain areas to mark the world mountain day today.
In an appeal to mark the World Mountain Day today, the UN Environment Program, experts and people from Bhutan, Switzerland, and Canada warned that climate change was already changing their landscape, livelihoods and sapping water supplies.
The Executive Director of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Lam Dorji, said melting glaciers and changing temperatures in the Himalayas had increased threats such as glacial lakes, and soil erosion in the east of the country.
“People used to have springs close to their communities. These have dried out and people have to move further to fetch water,” said Lam Dorji.
A UN report released in Cancun, Mexico on Tuesday also warned that mountain glaciers in southern South America and Alaska were melting faster.
Even though negotiators have voiced hope that the climate talks between 190 countries would iron out differences nothing seems to be happening.
In a side event, ‘Mountains in Peril: Mainstreaming the Sustainable Mountain Development Agenda into Climate Change Agreements’ organized by ICIMOD on 2 October during COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico, experts from leading institutions and government organizations working in the field of climate change in the Himalayan region called attention to mountain issues and challenges in the light of climate change.
They linked these issues to the debate on how to mainstream the sustainable development agenda while planning adaptation and mitigation activities, including the management of risks and hazards in fragile mountain environments, and called on mountainous countries to join the Mountain Initiative promoted by the Government of Nepal.
Tashi Jamtsho from Bhutan called attention to the need for action. “In the Himalayas where the impacts of global climate change are manifesting at a rapid pace, the time for action is running out,” he said.
He told the audience how Bhutan is bringing its neighboring countries on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal) together to convene ‘The Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas’ in Bhutan in October 2011, where they plan to agree to a common 10-year adaptation plan for the region.
According to UNEP, mountains cover 20% of the earth’s surface and are home to just 10% of the world’s population but half of humanity depends on freshwater water from mountains.
“While the international community continues to be deadlocked in its efforts to negotiate a new climate deal, UNEP wants to remind the world that the consequences of higher increase in temperature would be devastating for mountains, for the services they provide and for the large population who depend on them,” said UNEP Europe director Christophe Bouvier.