Mountain Voice: In the series of Mountain Voice project the Climate Himalaya team interviewed Dr. David J Molden, Director General of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, Nepal) and discussed about the climate related issues in Himalayan region and about scientific communications and policy making processes.
Climate Himalaya: Barring exceptions, it is business as usual across the mountains. The prevailing political economy hasn’t been as responsive to what techno-scientific arguments on Climate change is all about. Why can’t science convince the politics?
Dr. David Molden: We might argue that policies and practices have not moved fast enough to keep pace with climate change and other kind of changes, that is a good argument, I believe. I also believe that policy needs to be more responsive, but, on the other hand I also believe that there has been some shifts in the mountains, for example people themselves migrate or try to adapt locally to changing situations. So, I believe for local people it’s not business as usual and we need to step-up our efforts to help changes happen.
We take IPCC for an example that has definitely made a dent on politics and politicians that is one good example.
I do also agree that scientist can be much better and more proactive in communicating the messages across. The first thing is that we have to be good at addressing the right kind of issue, a lot of times science is not addressing right kind of issues. Secondly to make sure that it’s policy relevant, and translate the scientific language in to the language that can be adjusted, it’s important but not sufficient. And the third one is to engage certain amount of science with politicians and policy makers as responsibility towards climate linked issues.
It has been good science in the region that has made difference, but that science needs communication and in it the role of Climate Himalaya is too to get those messages out. So, there is scope for improvement.
Climate Himalaya: What are the two important action areas in the mountains to communicate science to policy makers and politicians ?
Dr. David Molden: For organizations like my own, ICIMOD, we have to engage politicians, policy makers right from the start to make sure that we are addressing right questions, therefore people are getting right answers.
The adaptation strategy to the people is really to address the issues like poverty and vulnerability to all kind of disasters. Therefore, efforts should be very much people focused and to look at the opportunities for livelihood, so that people have more money to do things in situations like disasters and droughts, to purchase basic commodities like food. Therefore, any income generating activities for mountain people needs to be addressed on priority, which is very important.
If we want to focus on adaptation, the water should be the central in our mind. For example if we are thinking about agriculture, it depends upon rainfall patterns like floods, droughts, and especially in the Himalayas one need to consider snow melt and glacial melt pattern as well. The another important area of action is how to manage precious water resources when they are changing, in a much better way.
I think what has changed since Rio (1992) is the face of mountains across the globe. It’s not necessarily got better in last 20 years, as the forces were tremendous. In global sense we need the global recognition of mountains in terms of important ecosystems and people, and to get compensation back to the mountain people.
Mountain Voice’ is a multi-media series of Climate Himalaya that captures the experiences, thoughts and opinions of people, practitioners, policy makers and researchers on various climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In this we interact with people to record their voices to understand the current situation by uploading them on its knowledge portal and YouTube channel that could be viewed by people worldwide. The objective of ‘Mountain Voice’ is to generate awareness about region at various levels, so that Himalayan mountains are recognized among the important places those need attention of the world leaders towards climate adaptation and sustainable development. You can see other similar videos at Link>>
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>