Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Mighty Himalayas

Globalisation and climate change are having a growing impact on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people across the world. Climatologists say mountain communities - particularly in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region - need help to understand the shifts, adapt to them and make the most of new opportunities.
The HKH region - which extends across eight Asian countries, and includes some of the world’s biggest mountain ranges - is particularly important and vulnerable to climate change because it is the source of ten major river systems that provide water for agriculture, drinking, sanitation and other uses to a fifth of the global population.
The HKH mountain ranges and river basins are socially and economically important, with more than 210 million people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan earning a living from their natural resources.
The Himalayas influence the climate of the Indian subcontinent by sheltering it from the cold air mass of Central Asia. They prevent dry arctic winds from moving south into the subcontinent, keeping South Asian countries much warmer than other regions at corresponding latitudes around the world.
Himalayan ecosystems also play a significant role in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. And they provide a large share of the world’s resources for mining, forestry, drinking water and irrigation, as well as generating hydro and wind power. Among the goods they provide, both locally and further afield, are medicinal plants, nuts, fruits, wood and minerals.
In recent years, population dynamics, economies and the climate have started changing so quickly that the traditional adaptation mechanisms of people in the HKH region are becoming less effective. The result is a higher risk of poverty and marginalisation for mountain communities.

This problem calls for innovative and sustainable strategies to curb climate change and adapt to the impacts already being experience.

The region’s people must be enabled and empowered to cope with, adapt to, and benefit from the changes in climate they are experiencing, so that they will enjoy better livelihoods along with increased social and environmental security.

But while the green economy model may bring opportunities for investment in ecosystem services, such as fresh water, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration, as well as renewable energy and job creation, it also creates challenges,
“Thus it must be pursued with a balanced approach of economic, environmental and social development as well as apt policy and institutional measures to avoid mounting pressures on an already threatened environment and depleting natural resources,” 
Adopting a green economy approach has become essential for all national governments, as climate change increasingly affects people and ecosystems, 

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