Kathmandu, 30 October 2023 (TDI): UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a plea for action on climate change during his visit to the Everest region in Nepal, where rapidly melting glaciers are endangering entire communities.

Over the past 30 years, Nepal has witnessed a significant loss of nearly a third of its ice volume, with glaciers melting 65% faster in the last decade compared to the previous one.

Guterres described this situation as “the rooftops of the world caving in” and warned that the complete disappearance of glaciers is a looming threat.

He stressed the importance of glaciers, particularly those in the Himalayas, which supply fresh water to more than a billion people and sustain river systems, crops, livestock, and local economies in the region inhabited by over 1.8 billion individuals.

The Secretary-General underscored the accelerated glacial melting, not only in the Himalayas but also in critical areas such as Antarctica and Greenland, due to rising global temperatures driven by climate change.

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He was worried that major rivers in the Himalayas, such as the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra, might not flow as much as they do now. This could cause saltwater to enter delta regions, which would destroy them and eventually wipe out low-lying countries and communities.

Guterres stated that his mission to the Everest region was a call from the “rooftop of the world” to “stop the madness.”

He emphasized the need to end the era of fossil fuels to protect those most vulnerable to climate change-induced disasters and implored immediate action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C to prevent the worst impacts of climate chaos.

During his official visit to Nepal, at the invitation of the government, the UN Chief also extended his condolences to the families of Nepalese students who lost their lives in terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on October 7.

He reiterated his call for the protection of all civilians in Gaza and urged an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, and the delivery of sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people in Gaza.