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Himalayan rivers at risk

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has raised concerns about the impact of global warming on major Himalayan rivers, including the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, which provide freshwater to 1.3 billion people. He warned that melting glaciers and ice sheets could lead to a reduction in their flows, adding that the world has already seen how Himalayan melts have exacerbated flooding in Pakistan. Guterres also expressed worry that rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion would damage large parts of these deltas. He emphasized the need for urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and called on countries to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, water pipelines, and policies to conserve water resources and ecosystems. He urged the international community to take measures to protect people and communities from climate disasters, including investing in early warning systems by 2027.

The UN Water Conference, co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands, is currently underway at UN Headquarters. The event aims to mobilize member states, the UN system, and stakeholders to bring successful solutions on a global scale. Nearly three out of four natural disasters are linked to water, and one in four people live without safely managed water services or clean drinking water. The UN has committed to Sustainable Development Goal 6, which promises that everyone will have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030. However, the world is currently off-track in meeting this goal. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023, published by UNESCO, reveals that around 80% of people living under water stress live in Asia, particularly in northeast China, India, and Pakistan. The report predicts that the global urban population facing water scarcity will increase from 933 million in 2016 to 1.7-2.4 billion people in 2050, with India projected to be the most severely affected.

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