20 September 2016: With the intent of raising awareness on climate change and its impacts at the local level , inspiring transparency and accountability from the governmental and non-governmental agencies in the development activities targeted for the mountain communities at the national level, and delivering the credible voice of the mountain communities in the international arena, Climate Alliance of Himalayan Communities (CAHC), in collaboration with Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) and International Centre For Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organized an interactive workshop entitled, “Mountain Communities and climate change” on Tuesday.
In the workshop held at ICIMOD, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal the youth from mountain communities (Solukhumbu, Dolpa, Mugu, Rukum, Manang, Mustang, Dhading, etc.) participated. Internalizing the importance of youth in the huge role they can play in advocating against climate change, the workshop facilitated the sharing, debate and discussions on the experience of climate change.
The first session of the workshop started off with the welcome and introduction by Manjeeta Gurung, the anchor, structuring the background of the entire workshop. It was soon followed by two videos, which signaled the direction the workshop was to take. The first video portrayed the simplistic concept of climate change and the second one gave a picture of how the beautiful mountains also have a dark face, destructive and frightening one, triggered by climate change. The videos were followed by a presentation by Prem Bahadur Bohara, the CEO of Climate Alliance of Himalayan Communities, flag posting the turns the workshop would take and the key ideas the workshop would focus on.
The second session, which was the main formal session, was inaugurated by Ang Tshering Sherpa, the chairperson of CAHC. His welcome speech portrayed how the melting of glaciers is heightened at present with reference to various natural calamities like glacial lake outburst floods, filling up of Imja Lake, etc, showing how the impacts of climate change were more pronounced in the mountains. He emphasized on how joint global effort is necessary for development in the Himalayas and how the youth can play the role in accelerating the pace of development.
Basanta Raj Shrestha, the director of strategic cooperation at ICIMOD, gave the opening remarks and presented on climate change as a whole. He also explained about the role ICIMOD is playing in combating the impacts of climate change. His statements were supported by latest substantial statistical data, figures, and photos, showing a clear distinction between the glorious past and the deteriorating present climatic condition. He presented ICIMOD as the catalyst in research and policy action programs. He shared how the ancient wisdom and civilization had originated from the Himalayas and river basins, pointing out how the Himalayas are a unique selling point of Nepal. His key message was “Work not only word” where he emphasized how words should be backed up by practical action.
Prashant Singh, the founder of Himalayan Climate Initiative was the moderator for the panel discussion, climate change experience sharing, and the Q&A round, during the second session. His sharing revolved around the idea of true leadership and about the need of true leadership in the mountains, advocating against climate change. He specified that information alone was not enough for leadership and that information should be internalized to be converted into knowledge and that knowledge, only when externalized, can lead to an ideal leadership. He highlighted the urgency of today, explicitly clarifying with example that there is no such thing as a perfect timing for taking action and that “now” is the right time.
The most significant questions that were addressed during the panel discussion were as follows:
1. How can the community-based risk reduction projects handled by ICIMOD and other concerned authorities be justified without the involvement and knowledge of locals?
2. How the huge information and communication gap because of language constraints be undermined?
3. Budget, which comes in the name of the Himalayan people, whether is invested in the concerned place which matters to the locals or not?
4. How the disparity among the mountains can be solved and equitable justice be attained?
The third and final session incorporated the summary of the entire workshop, presented by Devashree, an intern at CAHC. The thanks giving by Prem Bahadur Bohara, the CEO of CAHC, legitimately wrapped up the workshop.
The conclusion of the workshop was that we should move forward collectively rather than looking at the face of others and expecting them to do something. It’s high time that this is realized and executed in practice.