Karakoram International University (KIU), Gilgit organized a three-day conference on “Mountains and Climate Change – Resources, Challenges and Opportunities for Better Life and Livelihoods.”
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman formally inaugurated the event and expressed his pleasure over the international conference taking place in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Issues of climate change and its impacts on fragile mountain ecosystems, lives and livelihoods were discussed at the conference which was attended by international experts from Kathmandu University, Nepal; Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway; ICIMOD; Politecnico di Milano, Italy; College of Environmental Protection Velenje Trgmladosti Velenje, Slovenia, EU; EV-K2-CNR; and Institute for Ecosystem Study, Italy
The Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister stated his concerns over the increase in extreme weather events in GB. “Changing snowfall patterns, annual flooding, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), soil erosion and deforestation are some of the major threats government of GB faces at present,” the chief minister said. He said that compensating the communities affected by such events, adapting to climate change and coming up with strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change would help in dealing with environmental hazards. He hoped that the conference would provide guidance to international community and promote research-based solutions in the region.
National experts from KIU, WWF-Pakistan, AKRSP, University of Agriculture, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), government departments and other educational institutions also highlighted the impacts of climate change on mountain communities who are getting affected from unpredictable weather patterns.
KIU Vice Chancellor and the Conference Chair Prof Dr Muhammad Asif Khan said on the occasion, “This conference has played an effective role to chalk out future strategies for establishing research degree programs at KIU specifically focused on climate-related issues such as glaciology, permafrost monitoring, natural hazards management, high-altitude meteorology, GIS remote sensing and adaptability in response to climate change.”
WWF Pakistan Senior Manager and Conference Co-chair Dr Babar Khan briefed the participants regarding the significance of the conference in the region. “Looking at this conference in the context of COP21, it will help raise the voice of mountain communities at the international platform. More than 75 researchers who presented their papers on various themes are beneficial for the entire region and their recommendations should be incorporated in government policies and implemented forthwith.”
The last day of the conference was followed by a field visit to Passu glacier, Hunza, in order to highlight the effects of climate change on the glacier, so that researchers could witness the detrimental effects of climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan.