Collaboration must to protect mountain communities from worsening climate risks: Mushahidullah

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 15 (APP):Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan on Wednesday pledged for working together with all eight Hindu Kush Himalayan countries to protect lives and livelihoods of millions of climate-vulnerable people from exacerbating fall outs of climate change, particularly those living in mountain areas.

“Lives and livelihoods of nearly 210 million people living in the mountain areas of the Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan are at stake from various common climate change-caused disasters, particularly floods, glacial melt, shifting summer and winter weather patterns. However, deepening transboundary collaboration among these countries in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region for coping with common climate risks is now inevitable,” said Mushahidullah Khan, according to a press release issued here on Wednesday.

Addressing as a distinguished speaker at a high-level event ‘Cooperation for Building Resilient Mountain Communities’ held in Bonn city of Germany, he remarked the HKH region is characterized by mountainous environments and diverse of regional climatic conditions.

High-altitude regions in the HKH have witnessed recently warming amplifications and the paced warming is causing solid state water (snow, ice, glacier, and permafrost) to shrink at a much higher speed, leading to increase in the glacial melt-water.

The event was jointly organized by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and hosted by the International Center Integrated for Mountain Development, the event brought together environmental ministers, representatives of expert institutions and relevant.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. It is the source of ten large Asian river systems -– the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra (Yarlungtsanpo), Irrawaddy, Salween (Nu), Mekong (Lancang), Yangtse (Jinsha), Yellow River (Huanghe), and Tarim (Dayan), – and provides water, ecosystem services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 210.53 million people in the region. The basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population.

The Himalayan range alone has the total snow and ice cover of 35,110 containing 3,735 of eternal snow and ice (Qin 2002). The total for the region is not yet calculated. Hills and mountains, particularly the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain system, have always constituted places where adaptation, mitigation, and resilience are hallmarks of the people and the landscape they inhabit. Since time immemorial, the people of the Himalaya have maintained a rich cultural identity, and have maintained food security and biogenetic diversity within the parameters of their own tradition.
The Minister Mushahidullah Khan emphasized, “As a result of the impacts of the global warming-induced climate change in the HKH region, incidences of flash floods, landslides, livestock diseases, and other disasters are being witnessed with more frequency and intensity, which cause millions of people, particularly those in the mountain regions, to suffer in many ways and where poverty has shown increasing trends.”

He urged the regional countries to collaborate with each other for boosting climate resilience of the region against common climate risks through joint adaptation programmes, with major focus on mountain communities, which are highly vulnerable to the devastating impacts of the climate change.

Political leaders and official representatives from environment and forestry departments from the eight HKH regional countries also spoke on the occasion and highlighted fallouts of the climate change on their agriculture, water, food, energy and livestock sectors and how these impacts are badly affecting socio-economic lives and poverty and hunger reduction programmes.

In their addresses, they also highlighted various climate risks to their countries and said that glacial melt due to global warming is the biggest problem in the region, which has increased increased frequency and intensity of the glacial lake outburst events and riverine floods, land erosion and landslides.

They also supported Mushahidullah Khan’s call for jointly working against the common climate risks to various socio-economic sectors, particularly water, food and energy sectors.

Meanwhile, the political and official representatives of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China pledged to join hands with Pakistan and collaborate at all scales to boost climate resilience of the climate-vulnerable region, and particularly the mountain regions, which are home to nearly 210 million people.