Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations Gyan Chandra Acharya has said Nepal believes sustainable mountain development constitutes a fundamental part of the global sustainable development agenda.
Addressing the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of UN Conference on Sustainable Development/Rio+20 Conference on December 15 in New York, Ambassador Acharya said, "Nepal as a landlocked mountainous country attaches high importance to the Rio+20 conference, as we take up the issue of sustainable development and poverty alleviation in an integrated and holistic manner."
He further said mountains have particular characteristics, which provide us with both the opportunities and challenges, and explained that at present, 12 per cent of the global population lives on mountains and almost 50 per cent of the global population depends upon mountains for water and other eco-system services.
"Besides that, mountains are home to many cultural and ethnic groups, reservoir of biodiversity, renewable energy, destination of eco-tourism. Mountains also represent great spiritual and aesthetic values, which we are all proud of," Ambassador Acharya said, adding that topography and gradient of the land, poverty of the people, tenuous ecological balance, and difficulty in building infrastructure are its inherent challenges.
He said mountain people are closer to the nature, yet poorer in economic terms than those living on the plains across the board. Moreover, in recent times, food insecurity, outmigration, climate change impacts and other stresses and pressures, including unsustainable use of resources and economic globalization have put the mountains under stress.
"Land degradation, landslides, glacial lake outburst ﬂoods and severe and frequent disasters have become a recurrent phenomenon. Most importantly, there is a real danger of losing the perennial source of water, because of the melting of glaciers due to the rise in global temperature," he stated and expressed concern over Nepal and other countries in the mountainous region having "very low capacity" to control and manage expanding ecological footprints of economic globalisation.
He stressed on the need for special safeguard measures, and global commitment to ensure the protection of environmental resources of the
environmentally vulnerable countries, and safeguard the livelihoods of these countries from the pressures of economic globalisation and global climate change.
"Therefore, sustainable mountain development agenda most be high on the global sustainable development agenda. Unfortunately, Mountains have not received due attention and priority that they deserve as part of the global consciousness on their importance to all of us. We, therefore, call for a holistic approach. The Rio + 20 conference should therefore provide a priority consideration to the mountain issues," he said.
Acharya further stated that Nepal, which is mountainous, landlocked and LDC, face many challenges of sustainable mountain development such as access to food and nutrition, education and health situations. Similarly, poverty level is higher in the mountain people than elsewhere. Globalisation and outmigration are having their negative effects. Climate change is already causing a serious impact. The Himalayan glaciers are melting. Floods, land degradation, landslides and other disasters are more frequent and severe than ever before, he informed.
"In order to sensitize the international community about our challenges as well as many services that we provide to the global community, we started the mountain initiatives since COP 15 in Copenhagen. An international conference of the mountain countries was held in Nepal on the Green Economy and sustainable mountain development, which came out with the Kathmandu declaration. ICIMOD, a renowned organization with a strong track record on integrated development of mountains, is headquartered in Nepal, which took a lead role in the conference. We are planning to organise another conference on mountain countries in April 2012. The Lucerne World Mountain Conference held in Switzerland in October this year, which many mountain countries including Nepal participated in, has also come out with a call for action on mountain issues at the global level. We also appreciate the Mountain Partnership for highlighting mountain issues and promoting network among mountain countries."
According to Acharya, finance, transfer of technology and capacity building for mountain countries are therefore crucial to reduce poverty and build resilience, promote sustainable development and pursue a low carbon and greener path. He said they have to be pursued in a coherent manner and all the stakeholders should be made accountable towards fulfilling their commitments. Partnerships and collaboration with all Major Groups and financial institutions should also be strengthened. nepalnews.com