News archive 2010
Wake up call to humanitarians25 May 2010, PR 115/10
A new report calls for the Third Pole, the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region and its ten major river basins, to be given the highest priority in the humanitarian agenda. Dr Kent, Director of the Humanitarian Futures Programme, Department of War Studies, is co-author of The Waters of The Third Pole report produced in collaboration with the University College London earth scientist, Dr Steve Edwards, and the Editor of chinadialogue, Isabel Hilton.
'A fifth of the world’s population who live in The Third Pole region today face cataclysmic threats of earthquake, contaminated water, flooding and disease,' says Dr Randolph Kent, who urges humanitarian policy-makers to wake up to a crisis which is here and now.
'Let’s get over the political flak about Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 and focus on an actual crisis staring at us today. The people of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region (HKH) are living on the precipice of survival, facing certain starvation if just one of a host of cataclysmic threats is triggered. One and a half billion people are vulnerable right now to devastating risks,' says Dr Kent.
He emphasises his message is not one of doom but of real opportunity, 'We can mitigate a great deal of human misery if we take action now to develop new approaches and attitudes towards disaster prevention, preparedness and response. We have new technologies, new humanitarian ‘actors’ and partners and we need integrated action to alleviate the ever-increasing dimensions and dynamics of crisis drivers of the future.'
'The Third Pole'
The populations of Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan depend to some degree on water from rivers originating in the HKH region. 'This is a region of considerable human conflict with the supply and quality of water under extreme threat not only from human activity but natural processes and variation,' explains Dr Edwards. 'The region is sometimes referred to as the Third Pole because it hosts the largest expanse of frozen water outside the polar regions. Its drainage basins are one of the world’s most dynamic, complex and intensive risk hotspots and this highly active geologic and climatic zone is subject to the growing socio-economic demands of a vast population. Many parts of the region are already experiencing the first signs of serious water stresses.'
Isabel Hilton believes the hazards of the future will in so many ways be different from the past and the humanitarian sector needs to learn to ‘plan from the future’ rather than from assumptions and approaches overly wedded to the past.
The Third Pole report lists the main natural hazards in the region as earthquakes, extreme weather, windstorms, droughts, floods, wildfires and groundwater contamination. It says the impacts of all of these may be magnified by environmental and climatic changes, population growth, globalisation and increasing demands on resources.
An executive summary or the full report, entitled: The Waters of the Third Pole: sources of threat, sources of survival is available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org
A short introductory film to the Humanitarian Futures Programme can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d7oDBDTmWc or http://www.humanitarianfutures.org/main/about
[Image by John Jackson, the Argument by Design]
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
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Alex Bevis, Public Relations Department,
Public Relations Department, King's College London
Email: email@example.com Tel: 020 7848 3238
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