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Participants discuss story ideas and need for data
Participants discuss story ideas and need for data

Interpreting data through human stories

Temperature rise in the mountains is higher, which means global temperature increase of 1.5˚C would translate to 2 or 2.5˚C in the mountains.

Data on climate change is often perceived as too technical and that there is a degree of uncertainty in scientific research which frustrated journalists.

At the media workshop on climate change, solutions, and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the United Nations is organising in Paro, media officer with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Maxim Shrestha, said that ICIMOD was facilitating access.

“The inter-governmental’s research material and media are free for use,” he said.

Data, he said, should be seen as an entry point, a foundation, or a question. “There is a person and story in every single data. There is story in what is being counted or presented… Once we think of data as a story, we can find out possible biases in the data—what is left out, who is left out and why.”

Air pollution, accelerated glaciers and snow melts, drying up of water resources, increasing disaster risks, poverty, food insecurity and energy poverty, among others, are some of the impacts of temperature rise. This, rise in temperature, in the context of Asian, can affect the circulation of monsoon and distribution of rainfall leading to reduced crop yield.

Communities dependent on glaciers and snowmelt are increasingly feeling the impact of rising temperatures.

According to Maxim Shrestha, the direct impact of climate change on water resources was in the loss of storage in the form of ice, changing precipitation and flow pattern that resulted in more floods, drought, and a high level of uncertainty.

He said climate change was causing floods, droughts, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods in the region. “Women are more susceptible to natural disaster than men.”

The blanket approaches to country-level poverty, he said, was not sufficient but it was important to segregate the baseline by disaggregating national level and isolate mountains and hills.

“We see a much higher rate of poverty incidences in the mountain areas,” Maxim Shrestha said. “Bhutan as an entirely mountain country, we have to find out if the matrix used to measure poverty is applicable.”

He, however, added that there was an acute shortage of mountain-specific poverty data.

Thirty percent of Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) region’s population suffers from a lack of food security; 50 percent from malnutrition; and about one-fifth of children under five suffer from stunting.

“Agriculture and food production are highly susceptible to climate change,” Shrestha said. “Poverty (income and energy), food insecurity, and migration affect women, children and marginalised communities more severely than others but policies and response in HKH countries overlook these multiple forms of exclusion.”

The HKH region is a global asset for food, energy, water, carbon, cultural, and biological diversity.

What happens in the mountains is not only vital to the highlanders but also to those living in the plains. The HKH regions affect one-fourth of humanity.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Gerald Daly, emphasised that journalists and social media influencers played a significant role in shaping the environment for the future.

Meanwhile, the participants consisting of media practitioners, UN officials, and other relevant agencies like agriculture and home ministry discussed possible data requirements and story ideas related to climate change.

Tashi Dema

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