The Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations in New York and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organized a side event Impacts of Climate Change on the Mountains on the sidelines of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York today.
Ambassador Amrit Bahadur Rai, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations, welcomed the participants to the event organized to share the key findings of the Hindu Kush Himalaya Report of recently released by ICIMOD and also to draw lessons from the recommendations for inclusive mountain development. The Ambassador further said that the discussions will contribute to the ongoing exercise for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit to be held in September 2019.
Puspa Raj Kadel, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, who is in New York leading the Nepali delegation to 2019 High-Level Political Forum, delivered opening remarks. The Vice-Chairman underlined that the impact of Climate Change on vulnerable countries is extremely high and countries like Nepal are facing disproportionate brunt of Climate Change despite their insignificant emissions. Hon. Kadel also shared that the Government of Nepal has decided to convene a Sagarmatha Dialogue, a global platform to exchange views on areas including Climate Change.
The side event featured a presentation by Dr. David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, on key findings and recommendations of the Hindu Kush Himalaya Report. Dr. Molden cautioned that even if global warming was limited to 1.5° C by 2100, there would be a 1.8° C rise temperature rise across the region and up to 2.2° C in the mountains due to the Elevation Dependent Warming (EDW). Dr. Molden further said that if it is unchecked, this will adversely impact the lives of not just the 240 million mountain dwellers but also 1.6 billion people downstream.
He warned that the melting of ice and loss of glaciers on the mountains will impact agriculture productivity, hunger and poverty, migration, rich ecosystems and biodiversity. He concluded by highlighting six urgent actions: cooperating at all levels, limiting global temperatures, enhancing ecosystem resilience, recognizing and prioritizing uniqueness of mountain issues, achieving SDGs and sharing information and knowledge.
Following the presentation, a moderated interactive discussion took place for further deliberation on the serious message and implications of the Report, as well as way forward to address this issue. Ambassadors/representatives of Austria, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, among others, also shared their views. The discussion was moderated by Gyan Chandra Acharya, former Permanent Representative of Nepal to UN and former UN Under-Secretary-General.
Delivering his closing remarks, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Secretary-General’s special envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, thanked Nepal and ICIMOD for organizing the timely event. He also expressed his hope that the event would be able to raise awareness in the region as well as at the global level and contribute towards the drive of climate action, including through a greater focus on ‘nature based solutions’ as well as through coming together for achieving ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2030.
Ambassador Rai concluded the event by thanking the participants for their presence in and contribution to the event. Summing up, he stressed that the efforts to combat climate change will go a long way to secure our planet and save present as well as future generations.