Lessons from the Past: Upper Mustang and Climate Change
15 June 2022 - 15 June 2022
4:00PM - 5:00PM
Marielle Richon discusses the impacts of climate change on the communities of the Upper Mustang.
The video of this talk will be made available on the IMEMS YouTube channel at the given time.
About the talk
Climate change impacts are seen everywhere on earth today. Mountainous regions are the source of most rivers, they are invaluable providers of water. It is the case of the biggest mountain range worldwide, the Himalayas. The climate of Upper Mustang is very harsh. Landscapes are semi-arid. Winds are eroding mountains severely. Irrigation systems are extremely ingenuous, recuperating water from the nearby melting glaciers. However the rate at which these glaciers is accelerating is a major concern. The impact of climate change on these glaciers at this altitude has not been studied so far. Millions of people depend on the Himalaya Mountain Range for drinking water. If the capacity of glaciers to provide water for drinking and irrigation falls significantly it is human life itself which will be threatened. Traditional building materials are better adapted to the harshness of climate and extreme temperature differences between day and night, summer and winter. One should encourage a better understanding and recognition of the interdependence of traditional architecture with the environment (river pebbles, clay, moss, juniper) by local and national authorities. Climate change has many impacts, some natural, some economic. But the human and cultural impacts are the most concerning ones.
About the speaker
As an Oriental art historian, Marielle Richon worked at UNESCO (1977-2012) concluding as Programme Specialist and Focal person for universities at the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO. She worked in various domains ranging from protocol, to cultural heritage, World Heritage and the World Culture Report and also collaborated in programmes such as ‘The Encounter between Two Worlds (1492-1992)’ and the International Year for the World's Indigenous People (1993) to be followed by the Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1994-2004).
Since 2012 as Expert of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) she has been transmitting her experience in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention to professionals or future professionals in the fields of natural and cultural heritage (IREST-Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, Réseau des Grands Sites de France, Aix Marseille Université, the Euromediterranean University of Fes, Morocco, etc.). Since 2013 she has been coordinating a long-term capacity-building project in Nepal for the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance (OCHSPA). So far, this project has achieved a series of workshops and fieldwork for young Nepalese conservationists and heritage architects, the coordination of a book on ‘The Cultural Heritage of Nepal before, during and after the 2015 earthquakes’ (Vajra Books Publ.) and a cooperation with the Department of Archaeology (DoA) of the Nepalese Ministry of tourism, civil aviation and culture.
References and further reading
- For villagers in Nepali Himalayas, climate change is a signal of divine revenge
- Explainer: The disappearing glaciers of the Himalayas
- What record warm winters mean for glaciers in the Everest region
- Interview: A glacier scientist on field work in the Tian Shan
- Opinion: The way out of Nepal’s water crisis
- Les glaciers d'Asie en perte de Vitesse
- Climate change causing faster snow melt in the Himalayas
- Climate change, border tensions, destroy the habitat of the Pashmina goat
- Two-thirds of glacier ice in Himalayas will be lost by 2100 if climate targets aren’t met
- Upper Mustang - A cultural landscape framework - Neel Kamal Chapagain
- Water of Discord, Water of Unity: An Ethnographic Study of the Struggle for Water Rights in Upper Mustang, Nepal. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Basnet, GB 2007, University of Georgia, USA
- National Trust for Nature Conservation, website
- Tentative List of Nepal – The Medieval Earthern Walled City of Lo Manthang (accessed on 27 May 2022)