ICIMOD for regional cooperation to face climate impacts

DHAKA  – David James Molden, Director General (DG) of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional intergovernmental organisation, has underscored the need for more cooperation among the member countries to face climate change impacts and build adaptation.

“In this region, we need a lot more cooperation among the member countries to really address some of the energy challenges, how to mitigate green house emissions and how to build that adaption,” he said.

The ICIMOD DG was recently speaking before a group of South Asian journalists at its headquarters in Kathmandu while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) sponsored the capacity building media tour on disaster management and promotion of tourism in Nepal.

ICIMOD, an inter-governmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan– of the Hindu Kush Himalaya-based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Molden said a lot of floods occurred in this region since there are many cross boundary rivers adding, “So, these countries will have to work together building resilience.”

Mentioning that the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is critically a sensitive region of the world in the context of climate change, he said in a 1.5 degree Celsius World, glaciers in the HKH will lose 1/3 of their volume by 2100 and 2/3 of their volume under current emission trends. “The mountain people will
feel the impacts first…We really have to highlight solutions,” he added.

James Molden said around 240 million people live in the hills and mountains in this region facing some of the sustainable challenges as the poverty rate in the mountains is higher than the national average. “The national average poverty rate in this region is 25 percent which is 33 percent in the hills and mountain areas.”

Mentioning that the HKH region is the source of 10 major river systems considered as the ‘water tower’ of Asia, he said about 1.9 billion out of total eight billion people live in this river basins.

Highlighting various operations of the ICIMOD at the CHT areas of  Bangladesh, Molden said the ICIMOD has been playing an important role over the last 36 years for not only the mountain people but also for the people of Asia.

ICIMOD Programme Coordinator on Climate Services and Hi-risk Dr Mandira Shrestha made a power-point presentation on the occasion while technical director of seismic engineering of Miyamoto International Jitendra Bothara, ADB senior project officer Naresh Giri and ICIMOD Specialist Naina Shakya made separate presentations on the Nepal earthquake 2015 and reconstruction efforts.

In her presentation, Dr Mandira Shrestha showed that HKH is prone to disasters while more than one billion people are at risk of exposure to increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards.

She informed that the ICIMOD provides the technical support to improve the lead time, capacity and the forecast of the concerned agencies of the respective countries like Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

Answering to a question, Dr Mandira said there are some bilateral agreements, but unfortunately there is no trilateral agreement among the countries in this region adding, “I think that is desirable and that is what people are trying to have multilateral arrangement.”

According to the ICIMOD globalisation and climate change have an increasing influence on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities while addressing upstream-downstream issues.

Overall, the ICIMOD is working to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain population and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream now and for the future.BSS