SANGAM: HOW DO HIMALAYAN STATES APPROACH THE ISSUES OF CLIMATE CHANGE?

I am Sangam Paudel, a sophomore and a prospective environmental studies student at Yale-NUS College, Singapore. Having grown up in Nepal, always within the sight of the Himalayas, I am interested in learning how the countries of the Himalayan region (‘Himalayan states’) tackle the growing threat of climate change.

Vulnerable communities, often those with very little carbon emissions, risk suffering the brunt of climate change. This is especially true for the Himalayan region, which is susceptible to a large number of climate-change aggravated hazards. The increased magnitude of these impacts, coupled with the weak economic strength, means that these countries need to seek financial support for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As such, the results of COP24 will be of vital importance to these states. During the conference, I will be closely following the activities of these Himalayan states, with a special focus on Nepal, to understand their priorities and their corresponding methods of negotiation. Based on Nepal’s preparation for the COP and the prime minister’s address at the climate vulnerable forum, Nepal’s priorities seem to center around the theme of climate justice. In his address to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Prime Minister KP Oli mentioned that easier access to climate fund and affordable technology would be key to climate action in developing countries, such as Nepal. A further elaboration on the specific nature of the aforementioned fund and technology will likely be observed in the COP. Furthermore, lead by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari (previously the Minister of Population and Environment), Nepal will probably present facts about their carbon emissions, their efforts at mitigation and adaptation, and the huge risks they face, to appeal their case.

Thus, during the conference, I will mainly be observing the following issues:

  • Climate Funds for developing nations: The Paris agreement included the commitment of developed countries to mobilize funds to aid the efforts of developing countries. Given that access to climate funds is a priority for Nepal as well, I plan to observe the specific issues of fund disbursement to the Himalayan states. Related side-events and information from high-level negotiations (likely obtainable through social media) may be important in this aspect.
  • Role of non-governmental actors and community-level organizations in building adaptive capacity in the region
  • Formation of coalitions between the different parties involved

To prepare for the conference, I have been closely following the preparations made by Nepal by going through the presentations organized by the ministry. I have also been in contact with officials attending the conference, and I have had positive feedback regarding the possibility of meeting some officials in Katowice. I am awaiting correspondence with other attendees, and I hope to have some insightful conversations in Katowice.

Further, I  am attending numerous side events, including “Water and Climate: How to Increase Engagement of Private Actors”, “Up-scaling Adaptation Actions in LDCs through Innovative Technology, Finance and Capacity Building”, “1.5 degrees from a community perspective”, “The powers of water – on the way to the sustainable use of nature’s driving force”,  “Transforming Energy Systems: Directing Finance Away from Fossil Fuels Towards Renewable Energy”, and “Battle for climate change will be won or lost in Asia and the Pacific.” All these events are either organized by or related to actors in the Himalayan region and involve a diverse range of topics. Also, these side events are organized by varied actors, including NGOs, community groups, government officials, and development banks. As such, I would be able to obtain diverse perspectives on climate change issues in the region. I would, however, be unable to attend 11th December’s event titled “International Mountain Day – Mountain adaptation: Vulnerable peaks and people”. The event is attended by high-level representatives from the mountainous region across the globe, and it promises to be an engaging inter-governmental discourse on mountain adaptation.

The learning possibilities from the conference seem abundant. For me, I hope to be more familiar with the plethora of actors and their approaches in undertaking the different aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Himalayan region. The climate fund seems to have a paramount importance, and observing the various processes involved in its disbursement will certainly aid my understanding of environmental politics.

 

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