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UNEA-2: Healthy mountains, healthy planet in the Himalayas

At a high level side event held during UNEA 2 on 24 May, countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) came together to forge a strong and action-oriented partnership for sustainable development in the mountains for both highland and downstream communities.


The HKH Mountains provide ecosystem goods and services to one-fifth of the world’s population. The livelihoods of its inhabitants are increasingly affected by rapid changes to climate, environment and social systems. Environment ministers from eight HKH countries therefore joined forces in Nairobi to launch the HKH Partnership for Sustainable Mountain Development.


"The [HKH] mountains provide a stark example of the connection between sustainable development and climate change,” said Keith Alverson, Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch Coordinator for UNEP, at the event.


“Climate change threatens glaciers and mountain grasslands, which provide essential water for our economy. UNEP will continue to bring mountain people together to address these mutual challenges," he stressed.


The event focused on low carbon development, raising awareness of the importance of mountain environments for sustainable development worldwide, and jointly promoting the mountain agenda.


The meeting recognised that issues disproportionally facing mountain areas - such as poverty and adaptation to climate change - must be countered through cooperation across the region and beyond. As part of the efforts for sustainable mountain development, ICIMOD, UNEP-Vienna and GRID-Arendal will produce a report on climate change adaptation policies in the HKH. This will form part of the Mountain Adaptation Outlook Series, which have already been published for other mountain areas, such as the Tropical Andes and the Southern Caucasus.


ICIMOD and GRID-Arendal organised the side event in cooperation with the ministries of environment of the participating countries. ICIMOD is an intergovernmental organisation formed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. It works actively towards sustainable and resilient mountain development by fostering regional cooperation.


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