An Asian regional seminar at Leh, Ladakh in Kashmir warned of adverse effects of climate change in cold regions.
The four-day seminar was organised by the Group Energies Renewable, Environment Solidarities, a recognized international French NGO, in partnership with the European Union, GTZ (the German Technical Cooperation), ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency), and the Foundation Ensemble.
It was attended by representatives from India, Afghanistan, China, Tibet, Tajikistan and Bhutan. The conference focused on issues concerning adaptation strategy choices, which have become important for people living in mountains areas.
"Its important because these glaciers will melt within 20 years, and people's livelihood will collapse. This seminar aims to share this information with people from Central and South Asia, to improve livelihood for people from Hindukush, Himalayas and Pamir," said Vincent Stuffer, Country Director, GERES, India.
The objective of the seminar was to share strategies, expertise and field experience on energy and climate change issues to formulate a series of concrete recommendations in terms of policy and methodology and to initiate a community of practice among the key players of the region.
Scientists predict that at the present rate glaciers in the Himalayas will shrink within the next 50 to 60 years.
"Ladakh region has many glaciers and they are feeding many of our rivers like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. If these glaciers melt due to climate change during summer seasons, there could be unexpected floods. And when the water is needed, water will not be there, there will be drought. Even the UNDP report and reports of other global agencies say that the Himalayan glaciers will shrink in the next 50 to 60 years if we keep polluting the environment," Dr. Balaji, District Forest Officer, Leh and a participant at the seminar.
Global warming could wipe out large areas of glaciers in the Himalayas and surrounding highlands, threatening livelihoods across much of Asia.
Ladakh is geographically important because, when the glaciers start melting areas such as these would be first affected.
Mountain areas are particularly affected by climate change as relatively small changes in temperatures have severe impact on water supply, agriculture-based livelihood and infrastructure.