Rising Temperatures Increase Vulnerability of the “Third Pole” to Climate Change

News Briefing: 28 April 2022

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), supported by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has released a comprehensive assessment of environmental changes in the “Third Pole,” the entirety of the glacier-capped region in South Asia containing the largest reserve of freshwater outside the poles. The Third Pole provides freshwater resources to more than two billion people – 30% of the world’s population. This new report warns that rising temperatures and glacier retreat may lead to widespread water shortages across South and East Asia over coming decades. As global temperatures rise, the entire region experiences more frequent and intense extreme events, such as floods, droughts, landslides, and ice collapse. Unpredictability of growing seasons, the emerging scarcity of water, and increasing frequency of dangerous climate extremes will put food security in the region at risk. This report highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to reduce global emissions and protect communities that depend on the snow and ice freshwater resources of the Third Pole.