UNEP Pays Tribute to the Life of Climber Roger Payne Wed, Jul 18, 2012

Played Key Role in UNEP-Backed Expedition to Himalayas to Chronicle Personal Accounts of Climate Change

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Roger Payne, right, holds a UNEP flag on the summit of Island Peak for World Environment Day and the International Year

18 July 2012, Nairobi - It was with shock and sadness that the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) learnt about the tragic death of Roger Payne along with six other mountaineers in an avalanche in the Alps on 12 July.

Mr. Payne, the former Sports and Development Director of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation and an accomplished climber, helped spearhead a UNEP-backed expedition in the Himalayas in 2002 to collect first-hand accounts of environmental and climatic changes in the region from local people and monks.

The expedition, in support of the International Year of the Mountains and to provide a report for World Environment Day 2002, was also tasked with filming the formation of glacial lakes-newly emerging bodies of water appearing in mountain regions as a result of melting glaciers.

The footage was in support for work by UNEP and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development based in Nepal that had recorded the emergence of over 40 such lakes and rising concern that many maybe potential hazards to communities downstream if they burst their banks-so called glacial lake outburst floods.

The seven-strong expedition, which included Mr Payne's wife Julie Ann-Clyma, set off from the spot where in 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay departed to conquer Mount Everest.

British-born Roger and his climbers found that the original glacier that had been there in the 1950s had retreated five kilometres up the mountain.

During the expedition, the team heard and recorded the concerns of local people over the way the climate was shifting, landscapes were changing and how they feared for their futures.

Roger noted at the end of the climb, while debriefing the then UNEP Head of Media Nick Nuttall in Katmandu: "It is clear that global warming is emerging as one of, if not the, biggest threat to mountain areas. The evidence of climate change was all around us, from huge scars gouged in the landscapes by sudden, glacial floods to the lakes swollen by melting glaciers. But it is the observations of some of the people we met, many of whom have lived in the area all their lives, that really hit home".

The expedition, which ran from 16 May 2002 until 1 June, was made into a documentary By Slackjaw Films entitled Meltdown.

UNEP would like to pay tribute to Roger Payne for his life and work including his campaigning on the links between sport and the environment and climate change and the mountains while also extending our sincere condolences to his wife and family.

Notes to Editors

Press release on the 2002 UNEP-backed expedition in the Himalayas Press Release: Impact of Global Warming on mountain areas confirmed by UNEP-backed mountaineers

A daily diary, footage and films of the climb by Roger Payne and team http://www.rogerpayne.info/meltdown.htm


For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP Newsdesk, and Tel. 254 788 526 000, or e-mail: shereen.zorba@unep.org

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