The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted life in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) and compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities already impacted by climate change. However, it also presents an opportunity for concrete actions toward the transformation necessary for a more resilient and inclusive HKH. In this comprehensive policy paper, the authors assess the impacts of the pandemic, the risks and vulnerabilities, and provide policy responses and actions required for countries and more robust regional and international cooperation for the mountains.
In the long run, this paper argues that public investments will be needed for mountains in inclusive and accessible health services and infrastructure, agricultural support, and sustainable and low carbon development. The pandemic has unveiled the crisis of public health in the mountains that need to be addressed. It has also highlighted the need for more innovations and more mountain-specific, gender-disaggregated data to know what is happening with people and the environment.
The authors also stipulate that more investments in the mountains, including global and regional financing mechanisms for mitigating climate risks including disasters, adaptation and resilience building, and for climate-resilient infrastructure development. These must be based on data and evidence about mountain realities, and feed into more effective and targeted policies and adaptive planning.