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IHR

Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), one of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots, supports 50 million people living in the region and constitute about 16.2% of India’s total geographical area. IHR is custodian of some pristine forests of the country and also of an ecosystem which is not only the main source of water to the subcontinent but also provides invaluable ecosystem goods and services to the nation. The mountains provide provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services to mankind and also play an role in the mountains, as well as downstream economy and livelihood. 

According to successive IPCC Assessment Reports (AR) including the latest AR6, owing to its complex topography, climatology and tectonic activities this ecosystem is extremely fragile, and is therefore more susceptible and vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, land degradation and natural disasters. Adverse impacts on biophysical systems i.e. mountains, rivers, water, forests etc will eventually translate in to adverse impacts on socio-economic systems like mountain communities, agriculture, horticulture etc. There is a need to understand and maintain a balance of intricate linkages that exist between ecological, socio-economic and physical systems which is important for sustainability in the IHR.

Himalayan mountains are also facing a huge challenge in terms of rising pollution and waste management. 

We need to make a paradigm shift in this region and pursue environmentally benign development that leads to long term prosperity and ecological security of both the mountains and the country instead of short-term gains. The National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) is one of the eight missions in India’s arsenal against climate change and stands testimony to the understanding and acknowledgement of the special needs of IHR. NITI Aayog has constituted a Himalayan State Regional Council to ensure sustainable development in the region. 

Laws and policies are the most potent tools which create a mandate for the path of development and can at the same time protect and preserve environment .