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The Changing Himalayas
Countries should jointly develop a regional action plan for and environment based on their own decision-making
the control of emissions. Participation of all countries has to processes and participatory technology development with
be achieved by allowing them to interpret the mandates of support from outsiders. For example, Tibetan nomads have
international agreements according to their national interests already noticed the earlier spring and moved yaks to alpine
and priorities. meadows earlier than previously practised. Farmers in the
floodplains of Bangladesh build houses on stilts, and Nepali
Land-use management for carbon sinks and reduced
farmers store crop seeds for post-disaster recovery. Priority
emissions: Many countries in the Himalayas have
should be given to the most vulnerable groups such as
experienced forest recovery (or transition), through policy
women, the poor, and people living in fragile habitats such
intervention and the participation of local communities in
as along riversides and on steep slopes.
forest management. Examples include forest conservation
in Bhutan, tree plantation in China, community forest user National adaptation plans of action (NAPAs): NAPAs are
groups in Nepal, and joint forest management in India. The currently being prepared by countries under the initiative
forests conserved have contributed significantly to carbon of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
sequestration (Fang et al. 2001). They are expected (a) to identify the most vulnerable
sectors to climate change and (b) to prioritise activities
Payment for ecosystem services (PES): The mountains of
for adaptation measures in those sectors. NAPAs need to
the greater Himalayas provide abundant services to the
pay more attention to sectors such as water, agriculture,
downstream population in terms of water for household
health, disaster reduction, and forestry, as well as the most
purposes, agriculture, hydropower, tourism, spiritual values,
vulnerable groups.
and transport. There is a heavy responsibility leaning on the
shoulders of upstream land and water managers to ensure Integrated water resources management: Disaster
reliable provision of good quality water downstream. PES preparedness and risk reduction should be seen as an
schemes can be developed at different scales, from local integral part of water resources management. Integrated
to national to regional, and involve local communities, water resources management (IWRM) should include
governments, and the private sector. So far, the opportunities future climate change scenarios and be scaled up from
to establish PES schemes in the Himalayas to ensure safe watersheds to river basins. Water allocation for households,
provision of good quality water remain largely unexplored. agriculture, and ecosystems deserves particular attention.
However, land and water managers, as well as policy and Water storage, based on local practices, should be
decision makers, should be encouraged to look for win-win encouraged in mountain regions.
solutions in this context.
Development of alternative technologies: Novel and
Public Awareness and Engagement
affordable technologies and energy resources that do not
Full disclosure and prior information for grassroot
emit greenhouse gases are needed. Notable examples in
societies: Indigenous and local communities should be fully
the region include the diffusion of hydropower in Bhutan,
informed about the impacts of climate change. They have
solar energy and biogas in China, bio-diesel and wind
a right to information and materials in their own languages
energy in India, and biogas and micro-hydropower in
and ways of communicating.
Engagement of the media and academia: Awareness
and knowledge among stakeholders generally about the
Adaptation Measures
impacts of global warming and the threat to the ecosystem,
Disaster risk reduction and flood forecasting: Floods communities, and infrastructure are inadequate. The media
are the main natural disaster aggravating poverty in the and academia together can play a significant role in public
Himalayas and downstream. Technical advances in flood education, awareness building, and trend projection.
forecasting and management offer an opportunity for
regional cooperation in disaster management. Regional
Facilitation of international policy dialogue and
cooperation in transboundary disaster risk management
cooperation: Regional and international cooperation
should become a political agenda. Preparedness for
needs to advance in order to address the ecological,
disasters is essential (
socioeconomic, and cultural implications of climate change
in the Himalayas. The international community, including
Supporting community-led adaptation: One approach donors, decision-makers, and the private and public sectors,
to vulnerability and local level adaptation is ‘bottom- needs to be involved in regional cooperation ventures. This
up’ community-led processes built on local knowledge, is of particular importance for achieving sustainable and
innovations, and practices. The focus should be on efficient management of transboundary rivers.
empowering communities to adapt to a changing climate
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