Australia: A consortium of Nepali associations in Australia has called for special national and international measures to protect Mount Everest from climate change impacts.
At an online panel discussion organized to celebrate the International Everest Day, speakers and participants reached a consensus that addressing climate change impacts on Mount Everest and communities living in the Himalayan region is a collective responsibility of Nepal, Australia, and the international community.
Organized by the Federation of Nepali Community Associations of Australia (FeNCAA) and moderated by its Research & Publication Committee (RPC), the panel discussion was attended by researchers, scientists, policymakers, parliamentarians, businesspersons, community workers and climate change advocates, including the mountaineering community.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador of Nepal to Australia, Kailash Raj Pokharel, stated that Nepal needs interest-free climate finance from developed countries to tackle climate change impacts on the Himalayan region. He called for a meaningful partnership between Australia and Nepal, highlighting the need to address climate change risks for agriculture, forest management and biodiversity conservation.
Krishna Hamal, President, FeNCAA, said that Nepali associations have been lobbying with Australia’s federal and state governments for necessary cooperation on Nepal’s climate change agenda. He mentioned that Nepal requires additional Official Development Assistance from Australia and that FeNCAA will continue to build and strengthen partnership with Australian governments and other stakeholder groups, including parliamentarians, businesspersons, scientists, and local communities.
Expressing deep concern about climate change impacts on Everest and Hindu-Kush Himalayas, Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director General, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said, “On glaciers that surround Everest, ice has thinned by over 100 meters in just six decades, and the rate of thinning has nearly doubled since 2009.”
Requesting the participants to sign the SaveOurSnow Declaration, she called for greater international cooperation and coordinated funding strategies for mountain communities.
Keshab Goutam, Policy Officer, Climate Change and Energy Division, Australian Capital Territory Government, expressed the concern that the international community has not yet been able to meet the internationally agreed greenhouse gas reduction targets. He asked countries such as Nepal and Australia to unite to address the national and international concerns about global warming.
Raju Adhikari, Chair, Research Publication Committee (RPC), FeNCAA stressed that over the last few decades, significant global initiatives and efforts have been made to combat climate change. However, referring to recent scientific reports and predictions, he warned that global warming continues to impact national and global gross domestic product, forcing countries such as Nepal to face climate and economic crises.
He suggested that a joint climate endowment fund needs to be set up between Nepal and Australia to promote awareness campaigns and research collaboration.
Co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Nepal, Peter Khalil, MP, assured that he would continue to work with FeNCAA to raise Nepal’s agenda among Australian governments and parliamentarians. He believed that Australia and Nepal could build further cooperation and partnership on several climate change issues, including sustainable ways of developing and managing hydropower and renewable energy.
Bom Yonzon, Vice-president, FeNCAA, thanked all for their continued efforts to further promote Nepal-Australia relations.