The Himalayan region, stretching across 2,500 kilometers and home to some 100 million people is especially vulnerable to rising temperatures caused by climate change. Evidence indicates that regional emissions of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) and especially black carbon are a key factor in the rise of temperatures. The rising temperatures are causing Himalayan glaciers to recede at rapid rates, allowing little time for affected communities to adapt. The Mekong River Basin is influenced by these events as the Mekong River originates in the Himalayas. The Mekong Basin is inhabited by about 65 million people and provides a staple diet of rice to nearly 300 million people.
At a recent meeting in Bangkok Thailand, a broad range of partners met under the banner of the HIMEK Alliance. Their objective was to bring together institutions to form an alliance which would address the issues of climate change mitigation in the Himalayas and Mekong Basin, in particular looking at short-lived climate forcers, and especially black carbon. The alliance is aimed at fostering partnerships to promote regional cooperation to gather knowledge, identify strategies and work with individual countries to execute the mitigation strategies.
Participants called for Himalayan nations and Mekong basin countries to formulate joint strategies for the management of the respective regions in order to stabilize climate change. If SLCFs emissions can be reduced through regional cooperation, rising temperatures could be mitigated very quickly having a direct impact on climate change. During the workshop, participants discussed joint strategies which included land management practices such as increasing forest cover; better forest management strategies, such as the control of forest fires; appropriate land use practices; emission reduction strategies for vehicles, shipping and construction industries; and improved efficiency in domestic fuel use for cooking and heating.
Participants agreed that effective reduction of SLCFs will enable the temperatures in these principal eco-regions to stabilize over a short period of time and supplement the on-going international agreements and action programs for long term reduction of CO2 levels. The urgency of the situation has been highlighted by statements from climate scientists who say that the 'tipping point' may be a mere five years away. The formation of the HIMEK Alliance comes at an urgent time where the effects of climate change are critical and cannot wait.
The HIMEK Alliance builds on a series of workshops held in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and China on the topic of "Climate Change Stabilization". The Environment and Health Foundation (EHF), India under Col CP Muthanna of Kodagu Model Forest and in collaboration with IUCN, organized the two day seminar at IUCNs Asia Regional Office in Bangkok. Funding was gratefully received from the Canadian Model Forest Network.
The seminar took place from 1st -2nd March 2012 with participants from various agencies including: Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, RECOFTC (The Center for People and Forests); the Food and Agriculture Organization, Mekong River Commission; The Energy Research Institute in India; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Washington; Indian Mountaineering Foundation, India; United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organization.
For more information please contact:
Col CP Muthanna
Secretary, Environment and Health Foundation