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Media meeting held in Jumla on the impacts of climate change

6 April 2012, Jumla, Nepal - The impact of climate change could fall disproportionately on women and children, more so in the remote mountains of Nepal. Participants of the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek met with media and local authorities at a press conference in Jumla on Friday and discussed how the changed climate impacts the livelihoods of the families, which in turn adversely affect the children's nutrition, health, education, access to water and also their emotional well-being.

The Climate Smart Celebrity Trek along the Great Himalaya Trail is spearheaded by the 21- time Everest summiteer Mr. Apa Sherpa accompanied by the 2-time Everest summiteer Mr. Dawa Steven Sherpa, who started walking the 1700 km trail in mid-January, and who still have a month long trek ahead of them. The media meet is one of the many that they have had along the trail where they are joined by dignitaries- local as well as international to promote tourism and to highlight the impact of climate change in the Himalayan foothills. The media meet in Jumla was joined by UNICEF Representative Ms. Hanaa Singer, where the focus was more on the impact of climate change on children.

“Children's experience of climate change and disasters are different from those of adults, yet this is rarely considered,” stressed Ms. Singer during the media meet. "During disasters like floods, droughts, landslides and glacial lake outbursts – everyone suffers. The poor, in their vulnerable situation, suffer more than the others. But the ones who are hit the hardest, across all social brackets, are the children."

While children globally are being affected by climate shocks, the prospects of increasing poverty, hunger, disease and reduced access to education mean that children’s futures are more uncertain than ever before, more so in the fragile Himalayan belt. “Rise in temperatures, extreme weather conditions, floods and droughts will exacerbate the already fragile hygiene and nutrition status of the families living in these remote villages, “ remarked Ms. Singer. “Under such conditions, the already malnourished children, with their underdeveloped immune systems, will buckle under the burden of disease and death that accompanies unsanitary living conditions and food deprivation. The little ones are the first to face the brunt of climate change.”

Discussing the impact of climate change in mountain areas of the Himalayan belt, Mr. Bal Krishna Ghimire, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) and focal person for the Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme (GHTDP) said, “We believe that the development of the Great Himalaya Trail, and its resultant spillover benefits on sanitation, hygiene and improved livelihoods through the promotion of tourism, which will help the community in these areas to be better prepared to tackle the impacts of climate change”.

"I lost all my farmlands to glacial lake outburst flood back in 1985. Yet, because of the opportunity provided by tourism and mountaineering in the Everest region, I could make a living and help my children cope with the adversities,” said Apa Sherpa. "I have been delivering a simple message to my fellow Nepali’s living on the Great Himalaya Trail that by promotion of sustainable tourism they would be better placed to adapt to Climate Change."

The participants concurred that children are not passive bystanders and should never be treated simply as helpless victims. They stressed that since the impacts of climate change on the lives of children are real, policies and decisions made today will set the tone for years to come.

“Children have the capacity to actively participate in mitigating and responding to climate change effects,” added Ms. Singer. “Disaster risk reduction should be mainstreamed in the education system and children empowered with the knowledge and skills to be used as effective communicators of risk and drivers of change in their communities. This way they can achieve a lot to build a climate-resilient world for themselves and others.”

The Great Himalaya Trail – Climate Smart Celebrity Trek (GHT-CSCT) is organised by Himalayan Climate Initiative endorsed by the Climate Change Council headed by the Prime Minister of Nepal in coordination with the Government of Nepal, particularly the Ministry of Environment. It has also been supported by British Council, DFID, NMA (Nepal Mountaineering Association) and the GHTDP (Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme) which is led by the Ministry of Tourism (MoTCA), NTB (Nepal Tourism Board), TAAN (Trekking Agencies Association Nepal) and SNV (Netherlands Development Organization). Besides, ICIMOD ( International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) has provided technical support to the event. GHT-CSCT has also received financial support from corporate houses such as Geo-Eye, Asian Trekking, Dell and North Face.

For more information:
Mr. John Brittain, Chief, Communication Section, UNICEF; Phone: 977-9851054139
Ms. Seetashma Thapa; Communications and Outreach Advisor, GHTDP, Phone: 977-9813912845



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