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Step to get hills’ voice heard at UNFCCC

world Updated: Sep 28, 2010 01:09 IST
Utpal Parashar

Is the voice of mountains getting lost in climate change discussions? As bigger players hog the limelight, smaller nations with mountainous regions are feeling sidelined.

With two months to go for the COP 16 climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, Nepal has launched an initiative to ‘introduce’ the mountain agenda into the UNFCCC negotiation process.

Last week experts from 17 mountain nations across the globe gathered at Kathmandu to prepare a common platform and chalk out an agenda to protect mountains from affects of climate change.

Mountains host 13 per cent populations and are source of all major rivers. But as the polar ice caps melt, they too are threatened. Mountain communities who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions would be the worst affected as it would change their lifestyles and force them to move elsewhere.

But it would have far bigger impact in the lowlands too with increasing landslides, floods and other natural disasters, rapid melting of glaciers and degradation of watersheds threatening millions.

“But issues related to mountains are not getting due focus in international conferences. Hence such an initiative was needed to draw attention of global community,” says Ganesh Joshi, Secretary (environment), Nepal government.

With assistance of groups like International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development the initiative hopes to play a bigger role in Cancun and beyond.

To take the initiative forward, ministers from mountainous nations will deliberate in Kathmandu next spring to put pressure on bigger players. How they respond to this call to address the emerging threat to hills will be witnessed at Cancun.