Ridhima Pandey is from Uttarakhand, just west of Nepal in India's Himalayan region. She is nine years old. Last week she filed a lawsuit against the Indian Government for its failure to take action on Climate Change. Uttarakhand suffers many of the same problems as the communities our work supports in neighbouring Nepal: flash floods, landslides, insect pest infestations and heavy rain storms. Climate Change is exacerbating these problems and will continue to. Even at nine years of age Ridhima understands this and is calling on the Indian Government to honour pledges made in the UNFCCC Paris Agreement to limit the impacts.
One way to 'adapt' to the impacts of Climate Change is to leave these remote areas, but this is not really adaptation at all, it is fleeing and a painful last resort. When people leave remote, rural areas they most commonly head to the city. Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, like many cities in neighbouring India and China, is growing and with that growth comes overcrowding, air pollution and severe health problems. In a globalised world, the opportunities to migrate for work and study are fantastic things and we would never want to deny young people like Ridhima these opportunities. But, we desperately need to ensure they also have the opportunity to make a living in the remote communities they call home. The Himalayas are littered with thousands of abandoned villages, it is tragic and avoidable.
Genuine adaptation to climate change is possible and achievable, The Glacier Trust and our partners in Nepal are proving this. Thanks to our work, families are able to remain in the villages that have been their homes for generations. In some instances, our interventions have encouraged people to return to farm their land. We are helping them to nurture and improve it making it more fertile, productive and resilient. By enabling farmers to grow cash crops in a sustainable and organic way, our work is creating economic possibilities. This, we hope, will secure a future for the next generation.
We strongly support lobbying efforts like Ridhima's, but are not relying on national government's and UN bodies to turn their words into deeds. In a world of Trumpian politics it feels like a very high stakes gamble. Our focus is on the urgent need to take action now to secure the future of remote mountain communities. With your help we can do even more.