Bhutan Times: The formation of a group of mountain countries, as proposed by Ecuador, would have helped the group easily represent a common interest at the negotiation of the Convention of Parties (CoP) 17 meeting at Durban, South Africa, but it has left numerous such countries in a lurch following back off by some member states.The proposal was also much supported by Bhutan.The minister of agriculture and forests, Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho told BT that mountain countries need to be recognized and included in the discussions at the CoPs.
Mountain countries, according to him, have special needs and faces different challenges as opposed to other countries.
“Presently mountain issues do not feature on the agenda of any party to the convention,” he said, adding that, “Several countries which do not feature the impact of climate change on mountain areas have large areas under mountain eco-systems and hence mountain issues are of an inter-party nature.”
Given this backdrop, the minister said there should be accommodation among these countries to represent the interest of the mountain and mountain communities.
“The effort of several small mountain countries to form a group of mountain countries has not received the support of countries that have mountains but do not recognize their importance in terms of climate change,” the minister added.
Speaking along a similar line, the National Environment Commission (NEC) secretary, Ugyen Tshewang, said the mountain countries are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“The proposal of having a group of mountain countries needs to be considered and taken up seriously to combat the adverse effects of climate change. Bhutan is going to implement a series of National Adaptation Projects by next year in order to adapt to climate change effects,” he added.
Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho also re-emphasized the declaration made by Bhutan to remain carbon neutral at CoP 15 that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“It is a significant pledge given our status as a Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and given that we are not responsible for the emission of the green house gas that affects us,” he said.
“The Bhutan Climate Summit organized earlier in Thimphu was with the belief that we need to take action and not wait for global agreement on mitigation and other measures,” the minister said.
In a bid to sensitize the importance of the critical role that mountain ecosystems play in climate adaptation and sustainable development as well as the vulnerability of mountains and those who depend on them, to climate change, an event was also organized by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
The minister from Bhutan also attended the mountain day as a panelist. The event included parallel sessions on mountains, climate change from scientific evidence to policy and adaptation; and mountains and adaptation challenges and opportunities with a vision of Rio +20.
A draft of Mountain Day Call was also presented at the event and the important messages of the ‘call’ are that mountains are the ‘water towers’ of the world and global hotspots for biodiversity; the value of ecosystem goods and services derived from mountains is under-recognized, under-valued and poorly compensated; major downstream ecosystems are highly dependent on mountains and various others as stated in the Mountain Day bulletin.
The only major international decisions which included some mention of mountains and mountainous regions was during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) known as the Earth Summit held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (1992).
Written by Kuenzang Choden
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