Alarm Bells from Nanda Devi

Updated: Jun 25

It should not take a tragedy for the Himalaya to change its approach to mountain development. Yet every disaster that occurs is a poignant reminder that narrow solutions to short term threats are not the way forward.

On Sunday, 7 February, a glacier near Nanda Devi was bulldozed by a massive rockfall which triggered a tsunami-strength rush of water, killing hundreds downstream. This flood was yet another sign that the Himalayan region must take a broader view on climate action–one that addresses the drivers of glacial instability and considers the climate system as a whole.

The climate crisis is particularly potent in the Himalaya, where the glaciers on the roof of the world are disappearing at an unprecedented scale, losing over a quarter of their volume in the last four decades alone. Mountain dwellers and more than 1 billion people living downstream will suffer from its consequences.

One fifth of the world’s population is now at risk of water scarcity as the frozen fresh water above them disappears, and downstream communities live in fear of being washed away in unpredictable floods. To make matters worse, ice melts to form lakes, which absorb heat and speed