New Delhi, December 4

T

he Asian Development Bank (ADB) has unveiled an initiative to address climate and disaster risks in the crucial Hindu Kush Himalaya region, a vital water source supporting over a billion people across Asia.

According to ADB, this move comes as the region faces accelerated warming, with projections indicating that 75 per cent of glaciers in Bhutan and Nepal could melt by the end of the century if global temperatures rise by 3°C.

The initiative involves in-depth risk analysis of multi-hazard threats, including landslides, earthquakes, and floods, with a focus on Bhutan and Nepal.

ADB's technical assistance aims to enhance the government's capacity for risk assessments in priority river basins, paving the way for early warning systems and risk management strategies for future infrastructure development.

Home to the largest ice reserves outside the polar regions, the Hindu Kush Himalayas feed 10 major rivers, sustaining the livelihoods of 240 million mountain-dwellers and over 1.6 billion downstream.

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa emphasized the urgency of equipping Bhutan and Nepal with critical information for effective climate adaptation, crucial in managing escalating climate risks.

Asakawa said, "The roof of the world is melting. The Hindu Kush Himalayas region is critical to the well-being and economic security of more than a billion people across our region. This initiative will help equip Bhutan and Nepal with essential information and enable them to invest in effective climate adaptation--which is now critical to managing climate risk."

Economic losses from disasters in the region totalled USD 45 billion from 1985 to 2014, surpassing other mountain regions. The increasing frequency and intensity of disasters since then have heightened economic losses and the toll on human lives.

ADB's assistance aims to facilitate understanding of risks, enabling decision-making on disaster risk reduction, adaptation measures, and risk transfer solutions, including insurance.

Declan Magee, ADB Principal Economist, stressed the need for finance to flow into climate adaptation projects, emphasizing the importance of high-quality assessments accounting for multiple hazards.

The technical assistance seeks to advance knowledge in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region on climate-resilient investment planning, development, and risk management.

As Asia and the Pacific's climate bank, ADB has committed to providing USD 100 billion in climate financing from 2019 to 2030, with USD 34 billion earmarked for adaptation.

In 2022 alone, ADB allocated USD 7.1 billion for climate finance, demonstrating its commitment to sustainable development and poverty eradication in the region.

The roof of the world is melting: ADB launches initiative to safeguard Hindu Kush Himalayas from climate risks

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