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Envisioning the future of the Third Pole: A look ahead

  • K. P. Oli
  • B. Shakya
  • M. R. Pandey
  • Summary

This article envisions the future of the Third Pole Region (TPR) considering the principles and mechanisms for a regional alliance among the countries sharing the Third Pole environment. The TPR comprises the largest and the highest mountain ranges on earth connecting 12 countries. Often referred to as the 'Water Tower of Asia' it is the headwater of 10 major Asian rivers that provides water to over 1.4 billion people downstream. The Third Pole environment is rapidly changing - changes driven by both climate and anthropogenic influence. Impact of the increased greenhouse gas emissions is considered to be more serious in the Third Pole than any other place in the world. The rapidly changing climate and its impacts on TPR environment means cascading changes in snow, water, air, land, biodiversity, and people not just in the TPR but also in the adjacent river basins and landscapes. Such transboundary implications demand attention going beyond country led climate action. It demands collaborative science interventions to develop a thorough understanding of climate trends and projections, drivers of changes, depth of consequences, but importantly harmonization of laws and policies to navigate the cost of impact and inactions for the entire region. The prospective 'Third Pole Alliance' regional cooperation framework outlined here provides an institutional justification and governance set up to harmonize actions of 12 countries sharing the TPR. The alliance is going to be crucial if we are to regulate development oriented anthropogenic influences, streamline global, regional and local investments for collective climate action, and contribute to keeping the target of 1.5°C - the target which is already too high for the TPR. © 2022 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.

  • Published in:
    Environmental Policy and Law, 52(2)
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