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Himalayas Need Help, COP28 Talks Must Respond: UN Chief Guterres

By PTI December 03, 2023

COP 28: Almost 240 million people depend on the glaciers and 10 major rivers. Another billion people living downstream across eight countries, including India, are also dependent on the glacier-fed rivers

Himalayas Need Help, COP28 Talks Must Respond: UN Chief Guterres
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) submitted a proposal for compensation, calling for rapid scaling up of funding to understand and address the impacts of climate change on the vast population in the mountains and downstream areas. Shutterstock
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning about the impending catastrophe in the Himalayas due to rapid glacier melting. Addressing the ongoing COP28 climate talks, Guterres emphasised the urgent need for a response that addresses the specific vulnerabilities of developing nations, particularly mountainous countries facing the immediate impact of glacier retreat.

Approximately 240 million people rely on the glaciers and major rivers originating in the Himalayas, including the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra. Another billion people downstream across eight countries, including India, are dependent on these glacier-fed rivers.

Guterres highlighted the alarming rate at which nearly a third of Nepal's ice has vanished in just over 30 years, linking it directly to greenhouse gas pollution.

Having visited Nepal, including the Everest region, Guterres called on developed countries to clarify the delivery of the promised USD 100 billion and urged a plan to double adaptation finance to USD 40 billion annually by 2025. However, he stressed that these sums are insufficient compared to the scale of what is needed.

Advocating for reform in International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), Guterres proposed that they become more responsive to the needs of developing countries.

He warned that unless there is a change in course, a catastrophe could unfold with glaciers disappearing altogether, resulting in significantly reduced flows for major rivers and devastating impacts on deltas.

Guterres called on COP28 to address these issues and emphasised the need for reforming the business models of MDBs to leverage more private finance for developing countries at reasonable costs. He attended a high-level roundtable with Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and other heads of state and delegations.

The roundtable, following the recognition of mountains in the COP28 President’s Opening Plenary, discussed the urgent imperative to prioritise the Hindu Kush Himalaya for loss and damage compensation.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) submitted a proposal for compensation, calling for rapid scaling up of funding to understand and address the impacts of climate change on the vast population in the mountains and downstream areas.

With nearly 100,000 delegates from 198 countries participating, the COP28 conference commenced on Thursday and will continue through December 12.

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