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
- 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.
- 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.