Climate Change Challenges in the Mountains: Implication to Adaptation Needs of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas
Mountains today have 12 per cent of the global population, but provide water and other services to about 50 per cent of the population. As a source of biodiversity, water, clean energy, provider of ecosystem services, culture and tourism and above all livelihood to the people, mountains are a fundamental part of our global ecosystem. Globally, mountains are undergoing major environmental changes with progressive warming at higher altitudes. They are also referred to as a barometer of climate change for their sensitive reflections of the impacts. This is particularly true in the case of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region where lies the world’s tallest mountain ranges endowed with abundant natural resources on which depend nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants. The region is the source of 10 major river systems having their origins on the mountain and flowing down to the downstream plains thus providing vital livelihood support systems such as water, food, biodiversity and energy. The HKH region, which is also known for ‘Water Tower’ and ‘Third Pole’ of the Earth for the huge deposits of ice, has witnessed increased snow and glacial melt and frequency of extreme weather events that have exacerbated livelihood risks including poverty, food insecurity, hazards and social inequity. Ironically, the HKH region is home to more than 40 per cent of the world’s poor but is ranked as being at "extreme" risk from climate change. This review captures the insights of recent knowledge products relevant to mountain issues taking cases of HKH in the climate change context. The key findings include the gap in knowledge and policy fronts for addressing the mountain issues adequately from the perspectives of people living there.