13 November, 2022 – The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), in collaboration with Arctic Circle, hosted an open dialogue on the Third Pole Process at the sidelines of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), running in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18.
The open dialogue included Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland and Chairman of Arctic Circle and His Excellency Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate and Chairman of the Arctic Council, 2019-2021. Among other participants were representatives from Arctic countries and the Third Pole – Himalayan Region and various institutions and organizations from other countries.
In June 2022, MOCCAE and Arctic Circle launched the Third Pole Process as a comprehensive effort to present the Arctic model of collaboration to the Third Pole-Himalayan region, in an attempt to mitigate the threats of melting glaciers and water insecurity, aggravated by climate change. The Third Pole region is a term that denotes the geographic vicinity of the Himalaya, which includes India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and several countries in Central Asia.
Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said: “The UAE is at the forefront of nations tackling the climate crisis. To support efforts aimed at mitigating the risks associated with melting glaciers, we rolled out the Third Pole Process that forges meaningful synergies and promotes experience sharing to address the effects of ice shrinking. Taking place during the leading annual gathering for climate action, the session has highlighted the implications of climate change on the Third Pole region and introduced the upcoming Arctic Circle Abu Dhabi Forum to a global audience.”
She noted that glacier melting can considerably disturb the cycle of water, trigger higher biodiversity loss, and impede economic growth.
The Third Pole Process brings together governments, scientists, and experts to strengthen the regional knowledge of the challenges of diminishing water resources. It represents an active engagement with governments and institutions to enhance scientific research and partnerships to inform policy making, guided by the Arctic experience of collaboration that facilitates effective communication of scientific information to policy makers specializing in addressing climate change.
H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said: “The attention has been primary on the North pole and the South pole; the Arctic and the Antarctica. The escalation of the melting of the glaciers of the Himalaya-Third pole countries could in the coming decades become a paramount climate disaster. All the major rivers of India and China as well as the water resources of other Himalayan countries can be traced to the glaciers in the Third Pole Region. The future of over a billion people could be directly attacked by the Third Pole ice melting. The foremost glaciologist of Asia, Professor Yao Tandong, has predicted that with the present rate of climate change more than half of the glaciers in the region will disappear by the middle of this century. The Third Pole Process is intended to galvanize cooperation. The time is indeed short.
The Process is marked by milestone moments through a series of Arctic Circle Assemblies in Iceland and Arctic Circle Forums in other countries. The Arctic Circle Abu Dhabi Forum is set to run in January 2023 as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW). It furthermore seeks to make an instrumental contribution to the preparations for the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), set to run in the UAE in 2023.