Nepal, one of the countries facing severe risks from climate change!

27 Nov 2007

27 November 2007, Kathmandu - 'Avalanches and floods pose special risks to densely populated mountain regions. One of the countries facing severe risks today is Nepal, where glaciers are retreating at a rate of several metres each year. Lakes formed by melting glacier waters are expanding at an alarming rate - the Tsho Rolpa lake being a case in point, having increased more than sevenfold in the last 50 years', cites the Global Human Development Report 2007 launched today by Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, Honourable Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission in Kathmandu.

major messages can be drawn from the Report:

The bad news: Climate Change is already having and will continue having increasingly dramatic impacts:

- An immediate threat to human development. All the people around the world are and will be affected by climate change. But the poorest segments of society - 2.6 billion people living on less than US$2 a day that is 40% of the world population - will be affected first and hardest. They will also be the least able to cope with the negative impacts on their livelihoods eroded by climate changes

- A possible widespread ecological disaster with a major threat to future generations worldwide, halting and reversing human development. A two (2) degrees Celsius increase in the world temperature could create an ecological catastrophe with damage to humanity which could not be controlled

The good news: Action can be taken to counterbalance and reduce the risks of Climate Change:
- Adaptation : by recognizing and accepting that the climate is changing and will continue changing as a result of pour past actions, we can start taking new actions to adapt to these inevitable changes , taking advantage of some of the positive aspects and minimizing the risks;
- Mitigation: taking serious actions to reduce carbon emissions, to actively foster the use of cleaner energies and to protect the natural carbon sinks.

A critical element: The time for ACTION is NOW in order to truly fight climate change and the threats it poses to humanity.

- Actions we take or do not take NOW will have a direct impact on the way we and our children will be able to live in the decades to come
- A narrow ten-year window of opportunity remains to act. If that window is missed, a further increase in temperature could see an extra 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa go hungry, over 200 million more poor people flooded our of their homes and an additional 400 million exposed to diseases like malaria and dengue fever.
- Wealthier countries must take the lead in cutting carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic reversals in health, education and poverty reduction for the world's poor, while providing incentives for developing countries to adapt adaptation methods.

All along, the scale of the impacts on the lives of people that will come with climate change has been heavily under-estimated. Yet, the visible signs of global warming are seen everywhere, in changing temperatures and consequences such as more frequent and longer droughts, flooding, severe storms, melting glaciers, changes in rainfall patterns and the like. Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals are at great risk and might even be reversed in some countries and regions.

UNDP Country Director for Nepal, Ms. Anne Isabelle Degryse-Blateau states: 'Planning for climate change mitigation and especially adaptation represents a real challenge at many levels for governments in developing countries. It will require resources which are often way beyond the current capacity of these governments. The Bali International Conference on Climate Change, early December 2007, is a good opportunity for the Government of Nepal, together with other countries facing similar threats, to make its voice heard and the interests of more vulnerable countries seriously taken unto account in the post Kyoto framework negotiations. '

With regard to the United Nations, the Secretary General of the United Nations has made it his personal priority to work with Member States to ensure the United Nations Plays its role to the full in addressing this global challenge. 'UN agencies will collectively work with the stakeholders and the development partners in supporting the Government of Nepal's efforts to minimise the risks of climate change', states UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Matthew Kahane.