Water Security in the Himalayas


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Presented at International Alert's STRENGTHENING RESPONSES TO CLIMATE VARIABILITY IN SOUTH ASIA Conference, Kathmandu, 08 July 2013

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  • That means more runoff and more silt
  • Water Security in the Himalayas

    1. 1. Water Security in the Himalayas Kathmandu 8 July 2013
    2. 2. Source: ICIMOD The Third Pole
    3. 3. The Main Rivers & Their Basins River River River Basin Annual mean discharge (m3/sec) % of glacier melt in river flow Basin area (km2) Population density (per/km2) Yangtze 28,811 18 1,722,193 214 Brahmaputra 19,824 12 651,335 182 Ganges 18,691 9 1,016,124 401 Mekong 9,001 7 805,604 71 Irrawaddy 8,024 NA 413,710 79 Indus 5,533 45 1,081,718 165 Salween 1,494 9 271,914 22 Yellow 1,438 2 944,970 156 Amu Darya 1,376 NA 534,739 39 Tarim 1,262 50 1,152,448 7 Sources: IUCN et al 2003; Mi & Xie 2002; Chalise & Khanal 2001; Merz 2004; Tarar 1982; Kumar et al 2007; Chen et al 2007
    4. 4. Warming over the Brahmaputra Basin • During 1971-2003 warming over the basin of Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) was 0.30°C per decade (You Qinglong, 2007) • This is significantly higher than the rate of increase of the average temperature over India (0.22° C per decade) in the same period (Kothawale and Rupa Kumar, 2005)
    5. 5. Impact of Climate Change on Water • Intensified hydrological cycle => fewer rainy days but more intense rainfall on those days • in the long run, the annual runoff in the Brahmaputra is projected to decline by 14 % between now and 2050 (IPCC 2007c)
    6. 6. Number of climate related disasters 1900-2009 3526 357 616 4499 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 Hydro-met Geological Biological Total Source: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, Leuven, Belgium
    7. 7. Beijing-Lhasa Highway
    8. 8. Beijing-Lhasa Highway – Pumping Dry Ice to Steady Roadbed
    9. 9. Emerging climate related risks - GLOFs “More than 40 lakes in the Himalayas, formed from rapidly melting glaciers, are expected to burst their banks in the next five years, sending millions of gallons of water and rock cascading on to settlements in the valleys below”. ICIMOD study, Feb 2010
    10. 10. A Small Glacier in the Central Himalayas
    11. 11. Kedarnath after the mid-June 2013 disaster
    12. 12. Kedarnath after the mid-June 2013 disaster
    13. 13. Kedarnath after the mid-June 2013 disaster
    14. 14. China’s Hydropower Projects in the Brahmaputra Basin • Two hydropower projects under construction at Zangmu and Jiexu • A third planned at Jiacha • Construction related to hydropower projects started at three more sites • There are reports of 30 other projects planned, but the Chinese government has so far declined to share any information about them
    15. 15. India’s Hydropower Projects in the Brahmaputra Basin • 70 large dams have been proposed by the Indian Government in the main stream and major tributaries of the Brahmaputra – Siang (20) – Lohit (11) – Dibang (17) – Subansiri (22) • And there are many more run-of-the-river hydropower projects
    16. 16. The Questions • How are instability and conflict in fragile states exacerbated by future and existing climate impacts? (real world examples would be great) • How are existing national and regional institutions equipped and informed to address instability and conflict in fragile states? • How can current adaptation resources be deployed more effectively in fragile states? • How can the media play a better role in promoting peaceful responses to climate change?
    17. 17. The Problem • Policymakers, academics, NGOs, Media work in silos, adding to prevalent distrust. Few traditional channels of communication • The biggest example: Water sharing between – India and Pakistan – China, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh – Nepal, India and Bangladesh – China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – China and Myanmar – Many countries in Central Asia
    18. 18. • Improved collaboration between regional scientists, policy makers, and civil society on water governance and climate change issues • Shift thinking around river-basin development and climate change issues from narrow national security concerns to a regional perspective that includes ecological and social concerns What Do We Need?
    19. 19. • Higher quality local analysis of environmental threats to look for regional mitigation and adaptation opportunities • Increased transparency and accountability in water governance • Incorporate voices of poor and marginalised communities into policy debates What Do We Need?
    20. 20. What Should We Do? • Meteorological services and climatologists have to work more closely with water planners, irrigation managers and agricultural extension services
    21. 21. What Should We Do? Make changes in other policy fields, such as: • migration and settlement • transboundary cooperation • land use planning, especially for construction (e.g. avoiding high-risk and hazardous areas, specifications for the elevation of the lowest floor level, use of flood-resistant material) • agriculture, especially irrigation development • use of traditional knowledge (e.g. www.earik.in)
    22. 22. Understand that adaptation to climate change isn’t only about specific response strategies. It is also about • understanding the levels of certainty in climate trends, tipping points and stress indicators • communicating and policymaking in an era of uncertainty What More Should We Do?
    23. 23. • Stop working in silos, discuss all issues openly, bring in the people who actually use the water every day into the discussion • Carry out studies on local impacts of climate change • Shift our thinking to a river basin perspective, irrespective of political boundaries e.g. River Basin Atlas of India (http://www.india- wris.nrsc.gov.in/) is an excellent planning tool but it stops at the borders of India, which is what we need to avoid We Need To
    24. 24. Our Solution • Provide subject-focused online platforms for open discussion • Catalyze discussion on various issues e.g. –climate change effects on water supply and agriculture –Effects of urbanization in different countries –Attempts at sustainable tourism in different countries
    25. 25. Our Solution • Bring together all stakeholders, especially journalists, through –Media training workshops –Field trips –Sponsorship to conferences –Organizing competitions etc. • Always encourage participants to form online discussion groups and be active in them
    26. 26. Thank You joydeep.gupta@thethirdpole.net www.thethirdpole.net