NEW DELHI: Arctic Circle, a non-profit organisation promoting international dialogue among countries surrounding the North Pole, has mooted a similar initiative for the Himalayan region with the UAE leading the efforts in this direction.
The Arctic Circle Assembly, held in Reykjavik in Iceland earlier this month, featured a separate session on the 'The Third Pole Process' where it was mooted to start an Himalayan Council, with representation from nations from the Hindukush-Himalayan vicinity to discuss issues related to climate change and its impact on the region.
A senior government official said Indian diplomats present at the meeting voiced strong reservations about the Third Pole Process and insisted that any initiative for the region should be led by the Himalayan nations and not the Arctic Circle.
The Hindukush-Himalayan mountainous region, the largest accumulation of ice after the North and the South Poles, is regarded as the Third Pole and consequences of climate change are likely to impact the lives of more than two billion people residing in the region.
The Arctic Circle, along with the UAE, plans to introduce the Arctic model of collaboration to the Third Pole region comprising countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal and Bhutan among others.
“It will be designed to become an instrumental contribution to the preparations for COP28 in the UAE towards the end of 2023,” a statement issued by the Arctic Circle and the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said.
It said that the Third Pole Process will engage scientists, experts, policy makers and members of the political establishments into a sustained dialogue.
“Parties involved in Arctic collaboration through the years will share their experience via articles and interviews. Experts and policy makers in the Third Pole region and from the Arctic will contribute to the dialogue by sharing current information from the respective regions,” the statement said.
UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri said the UAE was committed to supporting global efforts to protect the natural world.
If left unchecked, glacier melting will trigger higher biodiversity loss, impede economic growth, and lead to more acute food and water shortages, she was quoted as saying in the statement.
“To avoid this bleak future, we are joining forces with Arctic Circle to roll out the Third Pole Process that will go a long way in forging meaningful partnerships and sharing experience to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the Third Pole region,” Almheiri said.
Founded by the then Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in 2013, the Arctic Circle has emerged as the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic.
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 when the prospect of the adverse effect of climate change made the countries along the Arctic Ocean realize the need for active cooperation.
It is an inter-governmental forum representing eight nations -- Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the US. Non-Arctic nations such as France, China, India, Germany are among the observers at the Council.