World Vlog Challenge highlights the despoliation of Khumbu region by climate change

Ten vloggers/creators from around the world trekked to the Khumbu Glacier to tell stories about the rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers and its repercussions on people in the region.

Rhishav Sapkota

  • Read Time 3 min.

Around the same time world leaders gathered for the United Nations’ Global Climate Change Conference (COP 26), ten vloggers/creators from around the world trekked to the Khumbu Glacier, one of Mt. Everest’s base camps, as part of the “World Vlog Challenge”, which aimed to tell stories about the rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers and life in their vicinity. 

The expedition spanned from October 23 to November 2. The vloggers/creators who were free to create their own content will be featured in a reality show that is currently in post-production. 

The idea for the show, according to Shree Gurung, the project’s chief, germinated from the realization that melting glaciers in the Himalayas required immediate attention—and that vloggers were the ideal storytellers in this case because they had their own distinct approaches to storytelling as well as their own audience niche.

The project team enabling the trek included world record-holder climbers Kami Rita Sherpa and Mingma David Sherpa, as well as the popular Indian TV show host Nikhil Chinapa.

The inclusion of Kami Rita Sherpa, who has summited Mt Everest 25 times, and Mingma David Sherpa, youngest mountaineer to summit all peaks above 8000 metres, in the team was both strategic in terms of the knowledge they had to offer about the mountains and also a bid to create empathy for mountaineers, according to Gurung. Nikhil Chinapa, who is associated with MTV, will host the show in the making. Gurung estimates the project would reach at least 30 million people worldwide.

Participants of the World Vlog Challenge at Lukla, Solukhumbu. Credit: World Vlog Challenge

The challenge coincided with COP26, the global climate change conference that ended recently. Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the unfolding climate crisis, a fact that is manifest perhaps nowhere so prominently than in the Himalayas, a fact the vlog challenge wanted to underscore. 

At the “COP 26 Making Business” event in Glasgow on November 9, 2021, Nepal’s Minister of Forests and Environment Ramsahay Prasad Yadav announced a “world leading commitment” to remain a net-zero carbon country from 2022-2045 and then become a carbon negative country thereafter. The commitments included a halt to deforestation and an increase in forest cover to 45 percent of the country’s area, as well as a goal to protect all people vulnerable to climate change by 2030.

The commitments have been criticised as vague and over-ambitious, and the Minister acknowledges this obliquely, claiming that it will take at least US$ 196 billion to achieve carbon neutrality.

The constantly receding Khumbu Glacier. Credit: Kunda Dixit/Nepali Times

While realistic and effective policies will make redress possible in this delicate ecosystem, widespread awareness about the precarious and continuously degrading glaciers is crucial. The COP 26 was about countries taking the initiative to, among other things, adapt to the irreversible environmental effects of climate change, which is impossible when there is apathy surrounding these issues. 

While developing countries are attempting to hold developed countries more accountable for their carbon emissions, public awareness of climate change and its ongoing effects is an imperative for citizens to hold their own governments more accountable. Initiatives like the “World Vlog Challenge: Everest” certainly work in favor of that prerequisite.