Realising that consequences of climate change in Himalayas can no longer be ignored, India along with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh has signed a declaration for wide-ranging collaboration on energy, water, food and biodiversity issues to addresss the threat to their ecosystem.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading conservation organisation, said in a statement that the deal signed at Bhutanese capital Thimphu could lead the way to similar climate adaptation plans being implemented to cover other threatened ecosystems.
"The success of our initiative will not only have direct and immediate benefits for our own people, but we could be setting a worthy precedent for other countries that share similar conditions," Bhutan's Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley was quoted as saying in the statement.
The four nations reached the pact at the two-day "Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas" against the backdrop of melting glaciers, erratic weather conditions, changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures impacting the people and wildlife of the region.
Environment Secretary T Chatterjee represented India at the summit attended by high-level government officials, NGOs, leaders of civil society, and youth ambassadors from the four Eastern Himalayan nations.
"The four nations broadly agreed to combine powers to increase access to 'affordable and reliable' clean energy resources and technology through a regional knowledge sharing mechanism.
"This would include diversification of energy supply, improved regional connectivity for electricity and natural gas, as well as efforts to enhance energy efficiency across the Eastern Himalayas," the statement said.
It, however, said agreements on water security – the most contentious are of the Summit declaration – were somewhat diluted.
"...But the four nations did manage to see eye to eye on future activities including collaborative ecosystem and disaster management, knowledge sharing in water use efficiency, and improving understanding of impacts of climate change on water resources across the region," the statement said.
"Consensus was also reached on food security and securing livelihoods, with the deal covering adaptive approaches to improving and sustaining food production, promoting systems that help vulnerable communities gain better access to nutritious food, as well as regional knowledge sharing and capacity building," it added.