It might seem a paradox but also in Sharm El Sheikh, one of the world’s most famous snorkeling destinations, there is a focus on mountains.
By Emanuele Rippa
It happened yesterday, in one of the rooms of the huge Sharm El Sheikh complex that is hosting COP27, there was a focus on mountains. And not about mountains in general, there has been a lot of talk about the Alps and the guys of “The Climate Route”, on the shores of the Red Sea, have also brought the Marmolada. It all happened in the Cryosphere Pavilion, where two very interesting events were presented for anyone interested in understanding the future of mountain areas.
The first event, “Mountains Connect: Partnership Across Mountain Communities”, was focused on the collaboration between groups of experts and policy makers belonging mainly to the Alps, the Andes and the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. The conference was about adaptation problems common to all mountain communities and to which communities need to be prepared for, including the melting of glaciers and permafrost, falling rocks or landslides. To do this, the need to share the lessons learned among the various regions has been stressed several times, to prevent common mistakes from being repeated and to try to replicate successful experiments instead. In this regard, much has been said about the 1991 Alpine Convention, as an example to follow to facilitate collaboration between the different regions bordering the same mountain range.
The representatives of the three mountain regions taken into consideration have repeatedly agreed on the need to collaborate with each other and are in agreement on implementing a sequential strategy divided into three points, which includes in this order: science, policies and implementation.
However, the Alpine, Andean and Hindu Kush-Himalaya regions are experiencing different problems with this intuitive three-point plan. If in the Alps the problem remains at the last step, that of implementation, in the Andean regions the problem that is hindering the process most is to be able to create policies that can be accepted by all, without negative impacts on indigenous communities or women. Finally, the biggest problems are those of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, where in addition to the difficult geopolitical situation, cooperation struggles to start also due to a lack of common consensus on some scientific knowledge, such as geographic knowledge.
The best solution therefore remains to cooperate, between regions sharing the same mountain range, but also between regions belonging to the different mountain ranges of the world, to continue sharing knowledge and learning from each other.
The second event, the one exhibited by the participants of the “The Climate Route” project and entitled “Witnesses of a Melting Glacier” instead focused on the project of the group which at the end of June 2022 left from the Marmolada glacier to reach Georgia. A very long journey during which they met and documented the stories of people who are struggling against the climate crisis, with the aim of raising public awareness of these issues.
During the event, a space was dedicated to the story of Sara Pasqualini, who on the 3rd of July this summer was right there, where 300,000 cubic meters of ice and debris broke off the Marmolada glacier, causing 11 victims. In this regard, the importance of the testimony of people like Sara, who have experienced the impacts of climate change in the most tragic way, was underlined.
The mountain regions are warming up faster than other areas of the planet, the Alps have already experienced a 2 ° C warming compared to the pre-industrial era. It is essential to think quickly about how to face the challenges that these events are posing and will pose to mountain communities and to cooperate to implement the best possible adaptation strategies without leaving anyone behind.
It is therefore essential to talk about mountains also in Sharm El Sheikh.