The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed a significant worry regarding the Himalayan rivers, particularly the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, which are essential for India.
He cautioned that the flow of these water bodies could decrease in the coming years due to the retreat of glaciers and ice sheets caused by global warming.
The Himalaya region is the origin of 10 major rivers in Asia, providing freshwater to 1.3 billion people residing in its watershed.
According to Guterres, as glaciers and ice sheets continue to shrink in the coming years, the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers will experience reduced flow. He also noted that the melting of the Himalayan glaciers has already exacerbated flooding in Pakistan.
Melting Glaciers impacting Himalayan rivers
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has raised concerns about the impact of melting glaciers on Himalayan rivers such as the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra.
Speaking at an event on the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation, Guterres warned that human activity is driving the planet’s temperature to dangerous new levels and “melting glaciers are the canary in the coal mine.”
The melting of glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland is causing a loss of 150 billion and 270 billion tonnes of ice mass per year, respectively.
In Asia, 10 major rivers originate in the Himalayan region, supplying freshwater to 1.3 billion people living in its watershed. The UN Chief highlighted that the world has already witnessed how melting glaciers have worsened flooding in Pakistan.
UN 2023 Water Conference
The UN 2023 Water Conference, which is being co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands from March 22-24, is set to produce a summary of proceedings that will be used in the 2023 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
After a long gap, this conference is expected to be a crucial moment to encourage Member States, the UN system, and stakeholders to implement successful solutions on a global scale, according to the United Nations.
António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, referred to statistics from the World Meteorological Organization, which showed that the average sea level worldwide has risen more rapidly since 1900 than in any other century of the last 3,000 years.
UN Chief urges unified action by countries
In a call to action, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all countries to come together and act as one to protect people and communities from the impacts of climate change.
He emphasized the urgent need to limit global warming to a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst consequences.
Guterres also highlighted the need to reduce emissions, enhance adaptation measures, and ensure climate justice, with developing countries having the necessary resources to adapt and build resilience against climate disasters.
He urged the international community to invest in climate-resilient buildings, infrastructure, water pipelines, and policies that conserve water resources and their ecosystems for the future.
Additionally, Guterres stressed the importance of building institutional capacities and integrating risk reduction measures to ensure that early warning systems protect every person in the world from hazardous climate or weather events by 2027.
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