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Monday, February 14, 2011

new himalayan caucus will not wait for global agreements to fight climate change

The consequences of climate change on food, water and energy security are the most important concerns for governments across the Himalayan region

As the effects of climate change increase all around the world, four Himalayan nations (Bhutan,
Bangladesh, India and Nepal) have taken a step further in fighting climate change through a unified adaptation plan for the mountainous region.
The countries will adopt the regional action for adapting to impacts of climate change at the ‘Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas’ to be held in Thimphu on October 14 this year , where leaders of the four countries will come together and pledge to support and implement the action plan.
This will be a significant milestone for countries that are the most affected by climate change even though these countries contribute less toward it. The four nations will set an example to the world that, even after the failed Cancun summit last year, countries in the Himalayas still have the determination to fight climate change.
Speaking to Business Bhutan, the executive secretary of Bhutan Climate Secretariat, Tashi Jamtsho, said while a lot of attention is being given to climate change at the global level, there is an immense need to address the issue of Climate Change at the local level.
“It is appreciated that climate change is being considered important and the global community is in the process of coming out with a concrete solution. In the meantime, we have to build climate change resilience,” said Tashi Jamtsho, adding that action at national and local levels can no longer wait for a global agreement.
At the recent country focal persons meet at Thimphu, the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said that actions must be expedited at local, national and regional efforts. “Climate change is a shared problem and regions bound by common issues and geographical boundary should coordinate efforts to deal with its impacts on the Himalayan biodiversity,” said the minister. The focal persons’ meet took stock of the progress in the four participating countries, agreed on a common
Frame work for developing the regional roadmaps, agreed on the role of the Secretariat and the technical partners of the Summit and set deadlines for events leading to the Summit.
Climate change in the Himalayas has various consequences on food, water and energy security. The rapid melting of glaciers, erratic and unpredictable weather, changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures impinge on the ability of mountain populace to sustain their livelihoods. Therefore, the most important concerns to be addressed by the 10- year adaptation plan are ensuring food security, water security, energy security and biodiversity.
The four working groups based in each of the four countries will hammer out details on these four targets over the following months. Bhutan will organize the ‘biodiversity experts’ group meeting,’ likewise Bangladesh, India and Nepal will organize water, food and energy experts meeting respectively. These meetings will produce regional road maps for the four themes while key elements to be included in the Summit declaration will also be proposed and agreed upon during these meetings.
The regional road maps will then be finally harmonized and consolidated during an experts’ group’s consolidation meeting in Bhutan in August where all the experts from four countries on all four themes will come together. The experts will also agree on a draft declaration to be endorsed during the Summit.
The harmonized road maps and the draft declaration developed from the various meetings will be presented to the ministerial meeting which will be organized prior to the Summit. The ministerial meeting will finally verify the road maps and approve the submission of the Summit declaration to be endorsed during the Summit. The summit is expected to adopt a 10-year-old road map for adaptation to climate change in the eastern Himalayas sub-region.
While the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and species are also a concern, a proposal to secure all of the eastern Himalaya’s temperature and alpine forest and grasslands for ensuring biodiversity persistence and maintaining ecosystem services will be proposed at the summit.
A regional ‘adaptation expert groups’ which will advice governments on the implementation of the plan and on emerging concerns and risks will also be proposed at the ­summit.

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