Geneva: Speakers at a seminar, while highlighting impacts of climate change on human lives, have said that a collective response and concerted action is direly required to save vulnerable populations in the disputed territories.
According to Kashmir Media Service, the seminar was attended by international experts, human rights activists, diplomats and academicians hailing from different parts of the world. The seminar/webinar was moderated by Sardar Amjad Yousaf Khan, Executive Director of Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR). The speaker include Dr Imtiyaz Khan, US, Dr Syed Waqas Ali Kausar, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Leon Sue, American human rights activist, Dr Saira Farooq Shah, Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST), Syed Muhammad Ali, strategic expert, Ms Fatima Waheed of National Defence University (NDU) and APHCAJK leader Hassan ul Bana.
Terming climate change as a global problem, the speakers said that climate change posed a serious threat to people living in conflict-hit regions where communities face myriad challenges and vulnerabilities compounded by political conflicts, violence and heavy militarization.
The territory of Jammu and Kashmir, illegally occupied by India, they said, was one of the world’s worst hit regions where climate change has affected the lives of Kashmiri people in many different ways.
“Kashmir is one amongst the climate change prone regions”, they said, adding that the long drawn conflict, on the one hand poses a serious risk to life, health, food and living of individuals and communities across the territory while on the other fluctuating temperatures, melting glaciers, incessant rains causing flash floods have wreaked havoc on key sectors of the region’s economy. The rising temperatures have led to severe water shortage in Kashmir, they added.
They said the water scarcity has also adversely affected the region’s agriculture sector which has affected the crop yield besides disrupting the food supply and access to quality food.
“Like other parts of the world, Kashmir has also witnessed significant decrease in groundwater”, they said, adding the wetlands of Kashmir, that host hundreds of species of birds round the year, have been affected by the climate change.
Referring to a report on impacts of climate change in the Himalayan region, they said the United Nations-designated disputed territory was also a host to world’s top snow peaks, glaciers and revering system – a dimension which was being deeply neglected amidst intense conflict.
“Climate change can be a driver of conflict but in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the conflict itself has potential and is acting as a driver of climate change”, the speakers said.
They said the developed countries must come forward in a big way to help the climate change prone countries to boost up their ability to respond to disasters and cope up with climate challenges.
Referring to the massive troops’ concentration in Kashmir, the speakers said the environmentally fragile region was a host to the highest military concentration-a major factor causing serious climatic issues to local habitat.
“More than nine hundred thousand troops deployed by India in the disputed territory armed with heavy artillery is a major destabilizer for local ecology”, they said.
“The troops deployed on the fast melting Siachen Glacier are disrupting the natural ecosystem and military activity is hugely contributing to the rise in temperature”, they said. They said that concerted efforts, a robust initiative and broader regional approach were needed to address the climate crisis.
The speakers said besides collaboration between the communities and state institutions, early warning systems, data sharing mechanisms beyond borders were required to minimize losses during natural calamities.
They said that trust and relationships among communities can only be forged by resolving conflicts, addressing political issues like the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.