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What the UN chief said on Climate Change in Nepal?

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Kathmandu in accordance with the invitation of Pushpa Kamal Dahal’ on 29 October for a four-day official visit.

The Secretary-General was received by Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. N.P Saud, Foreign Secretary Mr. Bharat Raj Paudyal, and other senior government officials upon his arrival. Furthermore, the Secretary-General was given a magnificent welcome at Tribhuvan International Airport.

Guterres was accompanied by Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Mr. Jean Pierre Lacroix, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations to Nepal Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, and other officials from the UN Headquarters in New York and the United Nations country team.

It was his first visit as United Nations Secretary-General but a second visit to Nepal. He visited Nepal back in 2007 to examine the status of Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal. 

During his speech at the International Convention Center, he talked about the concerns of climate change to the world and to Nepal and praised Nepal’s efforts to mitigate them.Here are the main points on climate change he stated during his speech:

“On climate action, Nepal is a frontrunner. You are on target to reach net zero emissions by 2045.”

“Thanks to extraordinary reforestation efforts, trees now cover almost half of the country.”

“Yet global crises are hitting Nepal hard, as they are developing countries around the world.”

 “The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and above all, the climate crisis, are threatening hard-won development gains and squeezing the funds available for investment.”

“And glaciers are melting at record rates. Nepal has lost close to a third of its ice in just over thirty years.”

“The effect is devastating: Swollen lakes bursting; Rivers and seas rising; Cultures threatened; And mountainsides exposed – inflaming the risk of rockslides, landslides, and avalanches.”

“What is happening in this country as a result of climate change is an appalling injustice and a searing indictment of the fossil fuel age.”

“I am deeply concerned by those communities in Nepal facing the brutal impacts of the climate crisis.”

“The United Nations stands with them. The world must do the same.”

“And I urge leaders to act on climate without delay – with the biggest emitters leading from the front.”

He expressed condolences for Nepalese victims of conflicts and called attention to the impact of climate change on the country. Nepal, a frontrunner in climate action, was commended for its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2045 and its reforestation efforts. Guterres urged international support for developing countries facing climate-related crises, proposing a $500 billion SDG Stimulus. 

He emphasized the need for climate justice, including honoring financial commitments and operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund. Guterres also called for reforming international institutions, acknowledging Nepal’s support in pushing for change. The speech underscored Nepal’s significance in the global effort to address climate change and the broader challenges facing the world.

During his visit to the Mount Everest region on October 30, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the world to fight on climate change as he watched melting glaciers placing entire villages at risk of destruction.

In further speaking on the risk of the quick melting of glaciers, he asserted, “However, with rising global temperatures on the back of climate change, glacial snow ice compressed over centuries is melting faster than ever – not only in the Himalayas but also in crucial areas such as Antarctica and Greenland.”

He concluded his address by highlighting, “We must act now to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, to avert the worst of climate chaos. The world can’t wait,”

In the afternoon, the UN chief arrived in Pokhara and landed at the old airport in Pokhara via a Nepali Army special flight. On 31 October morning, he boarded a helicopter provided by the Nepali Army to travel to Annapurna Base Camp.

Speaking to the local residents, Guterres acknowledged Nepal’s minimal role in contributing to climate change, stating, “The main factor of climate change is developed and industrialized countries; Nepal has no hand in this. Climate change is happening because of rich countries, but Nepal has to suffer the consequences.”

“Glaciers are melting at records. I was a witness,” Guterres said in his address. “The effect is devastating. Swollen lakes burst, rivers and seas rise, and cultures are threatened. And mountainsides exposed, inflaming the risk of rock slides, landslides and avalanche.”

Guterres talked to the media in Pokhara after returning from the Annapurna base camp, where he highlighted his commitment to raising awareness about the crucial problem of climate change. He promised to make an appeal to the international community to take measures to conserve the mountains and glaciers.

Officials at the MoFA stated that the primary focus of this visit is climate change and strategies to mitigate its effects on livelihoods.




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