As we enter the second half of the year, we look forward to our participation in a couple of major international engagements: the 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November; and the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Biodiversity in Kunming, China, in October.
We have been engaging in various COP events and processes for over a decade now, focusing on representing the challenges and aspirations of HKH mountain communities with regards to climate change. This year, we are already working hard to put together meetings, side-events, and a dedicated cryosphere pavilion at COP26 to raise greater awareness about our region and its realities. Moreover, we are going a step further by bringing together representatives of our eight member countries to present our shared concerns and priorities for our region. Towards this end, on 15 July we hosted the first meeting of UNFCCC national focal points of our region along with the HKH High-Level Task Force members and representatives from the COP26 Presidency. The meeting helped lay the groundwork for a unified position on greater climate action in our mountains. The meeting also officially launched our #HKH2Glasgow campaign, which will serve as the driving force behind our region’s efforts to represent our mountains at COP26.
So, what did our HKH countries agree to? First, all our member countries agree that our mountain region and its people are on the frontline of climate change, and even a 1.5°C world would have significant adverse impacts on water availability, ecosystem health, and livelihoods. This therefore requires significant attention, investments, and technology transfer going forward from all of our countries and the global community.
Second, given the interconnectedness of our mountains, HKH countries must enhance regional and international cooperation for climate action. This includes cooperation to facilitate data sharing to address transboundary climate risks; collaboration to support regional and international learning; and technology transfer for innovation, capacity building, and green infrastructure. This will be extremely important as HKH countries start implementing adaptation policies and plans, and also equally important when developing post-pandemic recovery plans.
Third, scaled-up investment in terms of financial and technological resources will be required to achieve the ambitious targets set by our member countries for climate adaptation and reduction of carbon emissions through actions in key sectors like agriculture, water, energy, industry, and transport. While our member countries and local communities have already allocated significant resources to implement these actions, corresponding commitment from the international community will enable mountain people to deliver action at the scale and pace required to adapt to a changing climate and limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. This is particularly relevant to our mountain areas as their greenhouse gas emissions are very low but they bear the brunt of climate change impacts in the form of rapidly melting snow and glaciers, expansion of glacial lakes, unpredictable rainfall, and increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, among other impacts.
Lastly, delegates and representatives of our member countries have agreed to develop a common position paper and convene high-level engagements during and in the lead up to COP26. We are confident that these efforts by our member countries will help bring attention to our region and ensure that our collective voice is heard loud and clear.
As we continue with our activities in the lead up to COP26, it has been encouraging to see support from this year’s COP Presidency in the UK. This has helped us gain even more traction and momentum. Working together with our member countries, we are confident that this year our HKH mountains and communities will be properly represented in global discussions, as they rightly should.
Be part of our #HKH2Glasgow campaign. Share your views using the hashtag on social media and help us spread the word.