Himalayas need help: UN chief
   Date :03-Dec-2023

■ By Uzmi Athar
WARNING of a potential catastrophe in the Himalayas where the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, UN chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday said, the ongoing annual climate talks here must respond to the needs of the developing nations, especially the vulnerable mountain countries that need urgent help. Almost 240 million people depend on the glaciers and 10 major rivers, such as Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra, originating in the Himalayas. Another billion people living downstream of these rivers across eight countries, including India, are also dependent on the glacier-fed rivers.
Addressing a meeting with mountain countries at this year’s Conference of Parties (COP28), UN Secretary-General Guterres emphasised that nearly a third of Nepal’s ice had vanished in just over 30 years, and it was directly linked to greenhouse gas pollution that heats up the planet. Guterres, who visited Nepal, including the Everest region, in October last week, called for developed countries to clarify the delivery of USD 100 billion and produce a plan to double adaptation finance to USD 40 billion a year by 2025. “But those sums are dwarfed by the scale of what’s needed,” he said and advocated for reform in International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to better cater to the needs of developing countries like Nepal. “So, we need the outcome of this COP to call for reform of the IFIs so that they reflect today’s world and are far more responsive to the needs of developing countries and for reform of the business models of the MDBs so that they can leverage far more private finance at reasonable cost to the developing countries,” he told the gathering. He said unless there isachange in course, “a catastrophe can be unleashed.” “The glaciers could disappear altogether.
That means massively reduced flows for major Himalayan rivers such as the Indus, the GangesandtheBrahmaputra. Deltas decimated by saltwater,” Guterres said. The Secretary-General highlighted the alarming pace at whichthe glaciers were disappearing, causing devastating impacts on local communities. “The mountains are crying out for help and COP28 must respond.” Guterres attended the high-levelroundtable with Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal‘Prachanda’, and other heads of state and delegations. The roundtable followed the recognit in givento the mountains in the COP28 President’s Opening Plenary, which mandated the issue be taken up under the Nairobi work programme