Participants from 22 countries stressed at the 9-12 November conference in Kathmandu the need for increased knowledge and science to fill the data gaps and mechanisms to move science-based evidence into adaptation policies and actions in the HKH region.
The conference, ‘Mountain People Adapting to Change’, was hosted by Nepal’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an intergovernmental body that serves the HKH countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Dipak Gyawali, Nepal’s former minister of water resources said that local level knowledge doesn’t filter up to the IPCC reports. “The IPCC is shackled by too much eagle-eye science and too little toad’s eye science,” he said.
Experts argued that historical climate records in HKH region are a challenge for climate variability analysis and climate change projections and emphasised the need for regional assessments. “It is important to bring the message of the mountains to the global community,” ICIMOD director general David Molden said.
The HKH region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the north and south poles and takes care of the water needs of 1.3 billion people downstream.
“The region may be data deficient, but it is not knowledge deficient. We need to harness our own knowledge and transform this into action,” said Anil Sinha, vice chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority.
“Mountains are upstream early warning systems that signal significant risks to downstream communities,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said via a video message.
MoSTE secretary Krishna Chandra Paudel stressed the need to mobilise local communities for climate change adaptation. Nepal, he said, is currently working on a Local Adaptation Plan of Action to address climate change.
ICIMOD also launched its Regional Database System, an open access web-based portal that allows users to browse and search through all of ICIMOD’s published datasets and tools for visualisation and the creation of custom maps and graphs.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South Asia desk.