Experts from Asian mountains commit to work together for social and ecological resilience to climate change
Senior government officials and experts from ten countries met in Kathmandu this week to promote collaboration on science, education, culture, and communication to lessen the impact of climate change on Asia’s mountain countries.
The Regional Workshop on Climate Change Impacts in Asian Mountains was held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). By organizing this event together, UNESCO and ICIMOD recognized the importance of uniting their varied disciplines in the response to climate change and fostered strategies to make this happen.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the workshop, Deependra Kshetry, Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission of the Government of Nepal and Chair of ICIMOD’s Board of Governors, highlighted the need to integrate the climate change agenda in overall development plans and policies of mountain countries to accelerate cleaner and greener growth. He anticipated that the outputs of this meeting would contribute to government plans and programmes in Nepal.
“We have to better harness the potential of interdisciplinary strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on mountains”, said Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO office in Kathmandu. “Scientific approaches must be combined with education, culture, and communication. Key actions should be to maintain a climate science knowledge base, address the social consequences of climate change, provide climate change education for sustainable development, and look at the consequences of climate change on tangible and intangible heritage. UNESCO World Heritage properties are excellent laboratories for understanding the impacts of climate change”, he added. Managers of World Heritage sites in 12 mountain countries of Asia were among the workshop participants.
David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, strongly advocated not only transdisciplinary but also transboundary cooperation for sustainable ecosystems and enhanced wellbeing of mountain men, women, and children. “We have to work together for resilient mountain development - for improved and equitable livelihoods through knowledge and regional cooperation”, he said.
The workshop proposed a number of strategies for collaboration across disciplines and borders, including:
- coordinated research for better understanding of climate and hydrological processes, their impact on mountain biodiversity and ecosystem services, and associated socioeconomic linkages;
- improving human wellbeing in marginalized mountain communities by unlocking the potential of payment for ecosystem services, and encouraging governments to ensure that the benefits of mountain goods and services are equitably shared;
- development of a standardized framework for assessing vulnerability to climate change impacts;
- enhancing the capacity of teachers, media professionals, and extension specialists to understand and communicate climate change issues; and
- enhancing regional cooperation and networking in capacity building, research, and development on climate science through regional organizations such as ICIMOD and the SAARC centres of excellence.
The event, held at ICIMOD’s Headquarters from 13 to 15 March, was one of three regional workshops on climate change impacts on mountain ecosystems being held by UNESCO to help shape the formulation of global strategies to strengthen policies on mountain ecosystems. The outcomes will also contribute to other processes such as the Mountain Partnership and Rio+20 follow-up.
Mr Tap Raj Pant
National Programme Officer
UNESCO Office in Kathmandu
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