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The Hindu Kush Himalayas
and Climate Change
David Molden
Neera Shrestha Pradhan
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Kathmandu, Nepal
Mountains Matter:
Water‐Energy‐Food Nexus
• Mountain systems – a global resource
Vital for water, food, energy, forests, biodiversity
• Mountains are under pressure
• Mountains offer solutions
Hotspot for climate change: vital resources and growing vulnerabilities The third pole on earth
- an area of extraordinary
beauty and a world heritage
site for culture & biodiversity
Himalayan glaciers are
sources of freshwater
reserves providing
headwaters for 10 major
river systems in Asia – a
lifeline for almost one
third of humanity
Ecological buffer between
the Tibetan Plateau and
South Asia
Climate change impacts in the mountains
• Warming: “ the rate of warming in the region is
more than five times faster than warming globally,"
(Lau et al, NASA, 2006);
• Glacier and snow melt accelerated
• Changing habitat for high-elevation plants and
• Increased occurrence of floods and droughts
• Changing availability of water for irrigation, drinking
and ecosystems
• Potential impacts on agriculture and ecosystems
The Mountain Agenda: New Challenges since Rio (1992)
Rio’92 recognized the Mountains as a Global
Agenda by dedicating the Chapter 13/Agenda 21 on
“Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable
Mountain Development”
New Challenges:
• Climate change
• Growing concerns - water scarcity, extreme weather events,
carbon and forests, energy security, and food security
• Persistent poverty
• Globalization – economic growth, connectivity
• Outmigration and feminization of agriculture
New Opportunities
• Climate change and disasters opened the
doors to regional cooperation
• Growing market increased for niche products
• Mountains as providers of ecosystem services
• Information technologies
• Green Economy
Nexus opportunities in the HKH
1. Build adaptation and resilience –
Build on local knowledge and capacities
Focus on women’s role in adaptation
Disaster resilience and early warning systems
Value and compensate for mountain
ecosystem goods and services, Payment of
Environmental Services
New livelihood options, niche products (high
valued crops/commodities, medicinal plants)
Enhance natural and artificial storages
Improved local governance
2. Improve knowledge base
– Improve observational network
– Develop science programmes for monitoring of
climate change and impact
– Scale down of climate models for the region
– Establish integrated physical and social
science pogrammes
– Support disaster resilience initiatives
– Establish regional forecasting and early
warning systems
– Understand the role of black carbon on glacier
3. Improve data and information sharing
– Develop regional platform for sharing of
hydromet and CC related data and information
– Foster common methodology and protocol for
data collection, processing and dissemination
– Establish regional data centre
4. Enhance regional approach and cooperation • Integrated Water Resources Management to support basin wide adaptation and mitigation strategies
• Integrated landscape approach for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management
• Regional cooperation for benefit sharing and exchange of knowledge
5. Capacity building
‐ Training to meet new needs: glacier mass balance, flood risk management, data management, forecasting
‐ Policy and institutional strengthening to enhance adaptive capacity
‐ Strengthening national and regional institutions to facilitate upstream–downstream exchanges, regional cooperation, and sharing of knowledge and best practices
‐ Data dissemination, public awareness, sensitizing at various levels
Global recognition of the role of Mountains in nexus perspective
• Mountains are a global resource
• Global action is needed
• High payoff for green economy locally and globally
• Rio+20 outcome document therefore must recognize the global importance of Mountains in the context of water‐energy‐
food nexus.
Thank you