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Urgent action needed to save Hindu Kush Himalaya, the world’s ‘water tower’

Another recent ICIMOD study confirms the region is undergoing unprecedented, and likely to be irreversible, change. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, and based on current projections, scientists predict that two-thirds may disappear by the end of the century. The 79 glaciers that surround Mount Everest, for example, have thinned by over 100m in just six decades, and the rate of thinning has nearly doubled since 2009.


Pakistani mountain villages threatened by floods from melting glaciers fight for their future

Regional collaboration is imperative in dealing with this crisis. Natural disasters caused by climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity, and disproportionately affect populations suffering from poverty and deprivation. National boundaries cannot protect the countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya from these, irrespective of where events may have originated.

Moreover, natural disasters such as flooding or extended warm weather are often followed by the spread of water or airborne diseases.

Countries in South Asia previously made efforts to present a common position on climate change, at the Cop16 UN climate conference in 2010. Countries from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had adopted an action plan for climate change, which listed several measures to deal with the challenge. Despite this initial promise, many agreed measures remain unimplemented.

Nevertheless, initiatives such as adaptation research centres and regional technology innovation networks show a willingness to address shared challenges. Revitalising this collaborative spirit is more crucial than ever.


‘Climate time bomb ticking’: UN chief says carbon emissions must be urgently cut

Net zero therefore is