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The UN chief discusses the impact of climate change on Third Pole

Utkarsh Classes 02-11-2023
The UN chief  discusses the impact of climate change on Third Pole International news 8 min read

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, issued a warning from Mount Everest that the Third Pole is collapsing and that the decreased river water flows would affect millions of people throughout South Asia. The UN Secretary-General emphasised the rate of glacier melt in Nepal, which has increased by 65% over the last decade compared to the preceding one. Due to global warming, Nepal's snow-capped mountains have lost over one-third of their ice in the last 30 years. Secretary-General Guterres stated that the forthcoming COP-28 would prioritise tackling climate change consequences in mountainous regions, including participation from local populations.

Concerns raised by UN Chief 

  • Reduced Ice cap of Nepal: In the past ten years, the melting rate of Nepal's glaciers has increased by 65% due to the rising effects of global warming.
  • Increased Temperature: Temperature of the Himalayan region of South Asia has seen warming that is higher than the world average.
  • Communities Erased forever: Glaciers high in the Himalayas maintain major river systems, agriculture, and local economies in an area with a population of about 1.8 billion people.
  • End fossil fuel age: The UN Chief calls for an end to the "fossil fuel age". He cautioned that the melting glaciers could lead to swollen lakes and rivers, potentially wiping out entire communities.  
  • Impact of Human Lives: Warming of Third Pole could cause dangerous flooding and water shortages for 240 million people who live in the mountainous region.

What is the Third Pole?

  • The Third Pole refers to the area that includes the Hindu Kush Himalayas mountain range and the Tibetan Plateau.
  • This is because its ice fields hold the world's greatest freshwater reservoir outside of the polar regions.
  • The Third Pole operates on the premise that sustainable development is only achievable with the active participation of people who are most affected by policy. 
  • The Hindu-Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region is also known as the Third Pole.
  • The Third Pole includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • The ice and snow from this region are an essential source of water for 12 rivers that travel through 16 Asian nations.
  • It separates the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus) valley to the north from the Indus River valley to the south.
  • It has huge cryospheric zones and is the world's greatest snow and ice storage area outside of the polar regions.

Significant features of Third Pole

  • The Third Pole holds the world's highest mountains, including all 14 mountains above 8,000 metres, is the source of ten major rivers, and serves as a powerful global ecological barrier.

  • The Third Pole region contains a great deal of socioeconomic and cultural variety, as well as ethnic populations and languages. 
  • It has abundant natural resources and includes all or part of four global biodiversity hotspots. 
  • Food and energy produced in these river basins that originate in the mountains of the Third Pole help a large number of people.

Important Role played by Third Pole

  • Economic Role

    • Rivers that originate in the Third Pole are the backbone of the economy of many countries.
    • The Himalayan foothills provide temperate/alpine temperatures for growing high-value crops such as walnuts, apples, and saffron.
    • The Third Pole also has a Tourism and aesthetic value.
  • Geographical role

    • The Third Pole is the source of 12 important rivers in the Indian subcontinent.
    • It shields the Indian subcontinent from the freezing cold winds of Central Asia.
    • Orographic rainfall occurs in the sub-Himalayan area.
    • It is a hotspot for biodiversity because of its diverse flora and fauna as well as temperature.

The Third Pole and Climate Change 

  • The Third Pole region is warming at a far faster rate than the world average, indicating a greater sensitivity to climate change. 
  • Changes in river systems and basins have had a direct influence on the well-being of millions of people in the Third Pole.
  • Climate change forecasts indicate that all parts of South Asia will warm by at least 1°C by the end of the century, with certain places warming by as much as 3.5-4°C.  

About UN Secretary-General

  • The UN Charter states that the Secretary-General is selected by the General Assembly on the proposal of the Security Council.
  • The Secretary-General is in charge of the UN Secretariat and serves as the organization's main administrative official.
  • He is the United Nations' ninth Secretary-General, having taken office on January 1, 2017. 
  • He is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who served as Portugal's Prime Minister.
  • Each Secretary-General is eligible for a second term if enough Member states support them.
  • The United Nations General Assembly elected Antonio Guterres for a second term starting January 1, 2022 and concluding December 31, 2026.

FAQ

Answer- Mount Everest is located on the border between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Answer- The Antonio Guterres is the United Nations Secretary-General.

Answer- The Third Pole refers to the huge Hindu-Kush Himalayan mountain range and Tibetan Plateau, which contain the world's greatest freshwater reservoir outside of the polar regions.

Answer- The Third Pole includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Answer- The Hindu Kush is a mountain range in Central and South Asia to the west of the Himalayas.

Answer-The 12 rivers that travel through 16 Asian nations have their origin in the Third Pole region.
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