• Lead-organizer: International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI)
  • 13:30 - 15:00
  • Date: 16 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-6

Sustainable Development in the Face of Rapid Climate Change: High Alpi

Organizing partners

Lead: International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI)
Co-organizers: ICIMOD, UNEP, Stockholm Environment Institute-York, Sweden, Mountain Institute


Climate change is occurring twice as fast in regions such as the Arctic, Himalayas, Andes, and other alpine areas than in the rest of the globe, placing enormous pressures on the peoples who live there. Many of the communities so impacted comprise indigenous and other communities already often marginalized economically and socially in their societies. How can these communities find a new path towards development in the face of such rapid change, in ways that both preserve traditional ways of live, lead to the meeting of Millennium Development Goals; yet do not contribute even more to the environmental changes already occurring with rapid ?cryospheric? climate change? What are the ?cryosphere-specific? sustainable development measures most helpful to these regions? A panel discussion with representatives and experts from some of the most climate-impacted places on earth.

Detailed programme

This side event combines a look at the social, economic and environmental changes posted by a rapidly changing environment in the places where climate change is having its most marked impact: the "cryosphere" (regions of ice and snow). Human populations in these regions already live at the edges of existence, and the massive changes underway have only served to increase those challenges.

The best means to adapt to those changes are measures that also serve to slow or mitigate -- or at least, not worsen -- the effects of climate change. Many of these strategies would involve work on classic health pollutants such as ozone, methane and particles that also have more extreme effects in these environments.

This side event will include experts and leaders from the sponsoring organizations and government(s) (including Sweden, current Arctic Council chair) to look at strategies that will lead to economic development not only in a way that is sustainable, but that also leads to social development and environmental benefits for mountain and Arctic societies -- for example, cook stoves projects that decrease air pollution, improve health, provide economic opportunities for women and girls, decrease stress on local forests for firewood, and also have a positive regional climate impact. Biogas for energy and cooking, won from manure or landfills is another "win-win" example for many of these regions.

We will encourage contributions and examples from other mountain and Arctic communities in the lead-up to the event, creating a list serve to exchange ideas and experiences.over the coming two months to further enrich the UNCSD/Rio+20 outcome through this "ice-eye view" of the challenge of sustainable development on a rapidly-changing planet.

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