Too Much or Too Little Water in the Himalayas
Copenhagen, Nairobi, Kathmandu, 11 December 2009 - Hundreds of millions of people in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and in the river basins downstream are being forced to adapt to a new reality: climate change.
Climate change is increasing uncertainty and the risk for extreme droughts interspersed with extreme floods that are challenging food security, housing, infrastructure, business and even survival.
Even hardy mountain populations, adapted for centuries to survival in extreme environments, are undergoing events so unprecedented that their traditional coping strategies are being overwhelmed by the events unfolding.
These are some of the main findings of a new study released today at the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO).
The findings are based on five field teams in China, India, Pakistan and Nepal who took part in this unique collaborative pilot study to look at the realities facing mountain populations and hundreds of millions people downstream.
The acute experiences of people in this region are living proof of the pressures some societies are already enduring as a result of the onset of climate change - adaptation here is not just a necessity but a question of local communities' very survival," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.