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International dialogue on climate change begins in Kathmandu

Experts from 25 countries are participating in the event.

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal inaugurated ‘Mountains, Human and Climate Change: International Dialogue of Experts’ in Kathmandu on Wednesday. As inauguration, the Prime Minister watered a plant and commenced the event. 

The dialogue is organized to draw the attention of the international community to the impact of climate change on the mountains and strengthen action based on mountain ecosystems. 

Experts from 25 countries, mountainous and small island countries, the international community, development partners, international NGOs, the private sector, and civil society representatives are participating in the dialogue. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Bhutan’s Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Lyonpo Younten Phuntsho, Bangladesh’s Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Saber Hussain Chaudhary, President of the UN Assistant Agency for Scientific and Technical Advice on Climate Change (SABTA) Harry Bhireu, Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal, chiefs and officials of diplomatic missions as well as high-ranking officials of Nepal government are attending the event.

Statement by Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ International Experts Dialogue on Mountains, People, and Climate 

22 May 2024

Chair of the session, Hon’ble Nawal Kishor Sah Sudi, Minister for Forests and Environment, 

Hon’ble Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, 

Hon’ble Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bangladesh,

Hon’ble Lyonpo Yonten Phintsho, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Bhutan, 

His Excellency. Harry Vreuls, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, SBSTA,

His Excellency Nurlan Aitmurzaev, Ambassador Special Representative of the President on Mountain issues, Kyrgyz Republic,

Distinguished delegates and participants, 

Good morning and Namaste!

It is my great pleasure and privilege to welcome you all in Nepal, the country of mountains and a living laboratory to learn the implications of climate change. Today we mark International Day for Biological Diversity, and I am pleased to have you in the country with rich biological, ecological and cultural diversity. 

At the outset, on behalf of the Government of Nepal and on my own, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for your valuable presence in this global dialogue on Mountains, People, and Climate. 

We stand here for climate justice for our innocent people and mountain ecosystems, the sheer victims of this catastrophe. 

Our collective journey towards recognition of mountains has yielded positively. COP-28 presented a crucial opportunity for nations to come together and reaffirm their commitment to ambitious climate action. 

Let me recall our collective success in establishing mountain agenda at COP28 through the high-level roundtable on “Call of the Mountains’ hosted by Nepal.

We must build upon the momentum of past efforts to translate commitments into tangible actions preserving the delicate balance of mountain environments for future generations.

Distinguished participants, 

Mountains are invaluable natural assets. These regions are home to 15 percent of the global population and nearly half of its biodiversity hotspots host a wide variety of flora and fauna and the communities with different languages, cultures, and traditions. 

Mountains play a pivotal role in the global climate system, contributing to maintain the global temperature and serving as water towers for billions of people living in the mountains and downstream, including coastal areas. 

Let me reiterate the recent reports of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which indicate that climate change impact in mountains is unprecedented. It is evident that occupying the front lines of the global climate crisis, mountainous countries are disproportionately burdened by the adverse effects of warming. 

The impact is intensifying snow and glacier melt across mountainous regions, altering water availability and increasing extremes. This severely threatens water security and heightens the risk of disasters, impacting millions dependent on these water sources and both upstream and downstream countries. 

Distinguished participants, 

Climate change is a grave concern for us who are experiencing the peril of our pristine natural resources. The warming rate is disproportionately higher in the mountains than adjoining plains. Projections alert us that the average temperature increase in the mountains will be over 1.8 Degree Celsius by 2050 while we are discussing to limit global temperature to 1.5 Degree Celsius by the end of this century. 

Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) are perennial threats in Nepal and other mountain countries. On current emissions pathways 80 percent of glaciers’ current volume will be gone by the end of this century. 

Mountain economy is heavily reliant on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, tourism, hydropower, and physical infrastructure; and mountain communities and ecosystems have worst climate impacts. Climate induced disaster and other impacts are severely affecting mountain livelihoods resulting degradation of resources, declining production and productivity, and a displacement of people, their culture, heritage, knowledge, and practices. 

Climate change is differentially impacting to those poor, women, indigenous and disadvantaged communities, who primarily depend upon weather-based livelihoods, have limited information, resources, and capacity to cope with the changes. 

Distinguished participants, 

I firmly believe that a unified mountain voice is urgently needed to address the growing concern about the effects of climate change on mountain communities and the ecosystem services they provide. 

The urgency of limiting warming to 1.5 Degree Celsius must be complemented by a focus on regional and global cooperation to enhance mountain peoples’ well-being, boost ecosystem diversity, stability, and sustainability, and identify sustainable development options that consider local requirements.

I have strongly highlighted these issues in all national and global forums including the 78th UNGA and the Climate Ambition Summit. Nepal is also championing this agenda in different international forums as the chair of the Group of LDCs.

In my previous deliverables, including COP28, I have strongly demanded the necessity of initiating a dialogue on Mountains and Climate change to realize the grief of the mountainous communities, find possible solutions, and bring them out of environmental injustice. 

As a result of this conscious and systematic effort, COP28 outcomes recognized mountain ecosystem as critical importance for integrated response and agreed to hold an expert dialogue on mountains and climate change at the 60th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) which is scheduled to take place next month.

Distinguished participants, 

We have a long way to go in terms of forging global consensus and support in advancing the mountain agenda and finding sustainable solutions for mountains and beyond. 

Realizing the urgency to a prompt action to deal with climate change on mountains, we have organized this international dialogue. I expect that this platform provides us the opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge, and forge partnerships for collective progress to make meaningful strides in addressing the climate crisis and securing a better world for generations to come. 

This expert dialogue is not just an event but a strategic initiative that aims to strengthen, coordinate, and prioritize mountain-based actions in the context of climate change and encourage mountain countries and agencies to collaborate on UNFCCC mountain work programs and mandates. 

This discourse should allow governments and stakeholders in mountain countries and their allies to better understand mountain-climate concerns and solutions, share expertise and experience, and enable synergies. More crucially, the dialogue aims to produce concrete roadmaps and strategies for mountains at the experts’ dialogue on mountains and climate change in SBSTA 60 session next month and beyond. 

We must not forget the significance of synergetic collaborations among the LDC Group, G-77, China, and other climate negotiation groups of the UNFCCC. 

Distinguished participants, 

Our positions are crystal clear. Due to an appalling injustice inflicted on us, our people and mountain ecosystems are severely affected by climate-induced disasters. And we strongly demand for the justice. 

Delivery of adequate, predictable, and accessible funds and technology is urgent to support science-based locally led climate actions. 

The full operationalization of loss and damage funds in a transparent and equitable way should be the foremost priority. 

We urge to put the most vulnerable women, youth, children, disabled people, indigenous people and local communities in the mountains at the priority of climate action.    

Nepal is fully committed to the Paris Agreement, including achieving net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2045, five year earlier than the global target. 

We will fully utilize our hydropower potential to secure clean energy and already maintaining 45 percent forest covered land.

Distinguished participants, 

Let me take this opportunity to once again welcome all the distinguished guests and delegates in this historic and important event. I am really pleased to recognize the gracious presence of Hon’ble ministers from our neighboring countries, Hon’ble SBSTA chair, high level delegates from developing and developed countries, and wider representation of civil society, scientists, researchers, private sector, and media.  

I appreciate, and thank Mr. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General for his visit to Nepal last year, collecting first-hand information of climate change impacts from the local communities who are facing the climate crisis and his appeal to immediate actions to address environmental crisis.

Please join us in our collective efforts to protect and promote the mountains, mountain civilization, mountain ecosystems, and inhabitants of mountains and seeks to garner collaboration and solidarity to tackle the common challenges posed by climate change in the mountains. 

Finally, I wish the great success in yielding tangible outcomes during this two-day dialogue and your pleasant stay in beautiful mountainous country, Nepal. I also wish the success of the forthcoming international expert dialogue on mountains to be held in Bonn. We have all our support to make this event more meaningful and forward looking. 

Thank you! 

(Updated)