Norway supports Himalayan climate researchNorway, Nepal and ICIMOD are extending their partnership to protect the Water Tower of Asia
This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Norway and Nepal, and also the 60th anniversary of cooperation with Nepal in renewable energy. Our people-to-people contacts go back even further. Now, Nepal and Norway have renewed their joint commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Norway and the regional partnership of ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) are also long-term partners. Since 1993, Norway has been working with ICIMOD through its Nepal headquarter to develop better solutions for the Hindu Kush Himalaya region to address challenges related to climate change on poverty alleviation. We have been partnering with ICIMOD for 30 years, and this week we signed a new agreement for continued support.
Norway and Nepal are geographically far apart, but as countries close to one of the three poles we share commonalities. Not least when it comes to the effects of climate change. The Hindu Kush Himalaya and the Arctic are affected by climate change; snow, ice and glaciers are melting, and the frozen land is tawing - changing the ecosystems and impacting the way of life for the people living in these areas.
The triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution are amplified in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. Pollution originating from Southeast Asia is affecting both the Himalaya and the Arctic due to long range transport by the wind. Global action is needed to reduce these effects to save nature and the people living there.
The Hindu Kush Himalaya stretches across eight Asian countries from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, to Pakistan. The rivers that flow from this mountain range support the lives and livelihoods of nearly two billion people living downstream.
An incredible diversity of flora and fauna provides a range of ecosystem services. A region of extraordinary diversity of peoples, topology, and nature, holds the largest reserves of fresh water outside the polar regions largely in the form of frozen water. That is why it is known as the Water Tower of Asia.
The Norway-ICIMOD partnership is rooted in a shared affection for mountains, affection for the people that live in the mountains, and the opportunities that come from sustainable use of the mountains, for instance in hydropower and farming.
The partnership focuses on increased resilience of farming practices to a changing climate, the revival of drying springs, the protection of fragile mountain ecosystems, and assessment and reduction of disaster risk.
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate will continue its collaboration with ICIMOD on important scientific work in the field to monitor changes in snow cover and glacier melt on a twice-annual basis – building upon the work done over the past eight years.
By setting up the world’s only monitoring stations above 5,000m, our teams have created a unique repository of knowledge: both for those living in the Himalaya and for policymakers and analysts of climate change worldwide.
As we have seen with the catastrophic floods in Pakistan last year, the flood disaster at Melamchi the year before, and the unseasonal heat waves that engulfed much of Asia last month, the climate crisis is an emergency for the region. The time to act is now.
Climate impact is already compounding the extreme hardships borne by so many families across countries in this region, where an unacceptable 30% of people face food insecurity and half experience some form of malnutrition. As the impact of temperature rise accelerates, compromising water security, agriculture, children’s capacity to study, and people’s ability to work and increasing the risks of natural hazards, the challenges of everyday life are only set to intensify.
With the support of Norway, ICIMOD will be able to significantly increase its efforts to protect the people and ecosystems that are central to our mission, ultimately improving the region's ability to withstand future risks.
The Government of Norway and ICIMOD are united in the belief that not one institution can solve the challenges the world faces alone. But by leveraging vast breadth of knowledge, scope of work, and historical data, we stand ready to support the Hindu Kush Himalaya transition to a greener, more inclusive, and climate-resilient region.
Through this catalytic partnership, we set out to ensure the protection of many more communities, habitats, and species – safeguarding this unique and precious region for generations to come.
As we celebrate the 50-year milestone of diplomatic relations between Norway and Nepal, as well as 30 years of collaboration with ICIMOD, we are happy that the partnerships remain strong, and we are committed to further deepening our cooperation in the years to come.
Anne Beathe Tvinnereim is Minister of International Development of Norway, and Pema Gyamtsho is Director General, ICIMOD.