12/04/2009, 00.00
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Nepal government signs Everest Declaration five km above sea level

by Kalpit Parajuli
Cabinet expresses concern over climate change impact on Himalayas. The country’s protected areas are extended by 25 per cent. Funds are allocated to help people living at the foot of the mountain range and for greater protection of Nepal’s natural heritage.
Syanboche (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s cabinet met at an unusual place, the Kalapatthar Plateau, which is located at 5,146m above sea level on the side of the highest mountain of the world; here, 24 (out of 27) ministers were present to sign a 10-point statement, the Everest Declaration 2009.  

“Through the Everest Declaration 2009, we would like to express our collective commitment on climate change and provide financial support to the [environment protection] sector,” Prime Minister Madhav Kumar said as he described the “historic” cabinet meeting.

Through this step, the government of Nepal is also calling on the international community to take on climate change. At the same time, it plans to increase by 25 per cent the surface of protected land in the country, allocate funds to help people living at the foot of the Himalayas and protect the natural heritage of the mountain range.

During his press conference in Syangboche, at 3,780m, Madhav Kumar said that the meeting on the ‘top of the world” was instrumental in laying the main points of his address at the upcoming United Nations summit on climate in Copenhagen on 7 and 8 December.

For the prime minister, the cabinet meeting on Everest marks a turning point for the country. on this occasion, the government spelled out “the local initiatives to reduce the impact of climate change in Nepal”.

Rising temperatures are in fact raising anxiety levels among Himalayan villagers as water levels in glacial lakes go up, increasing the danger of landslides.

Dawa Sherpa, a 45-year-old mother of four who works at Syangboche’s hotel, told AsiaNews, “The Lake is several miles away, but we live in constant fear of it bursting. It keeps me awake at night and I worry about my children’s future.”

Syangboche residents have complained for quite some time about the lack of government action to monitor frequent landslides and prevent lakes from overflowing.

The Everest Declaration 2009 might bring hope, but locals are still waiting for words to turn into action.

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