After the polar regions of Arctic, Antarctic, and the Greenland, the Himalayas hold the largest accumulation of snow and ice in the world. The Himalayas are warming faster than the rest of the world, and it is the source of major rivers systems that support more than one billion people. The melting of ice and snow impacts these river systems’ flow.
At the same time, the signals for climate change in the Arctic are alarming. In the Arctic, both warmer oceans and warmer air temperatures can impact the floating ice cover, and hence signals for climate change are much stronger in the Arctic than elsewhere on the planet.
But why would India be interested in the Arctic? Because changes in the Arctic impact the Indian Monsoon through oceanic and atmospheric pathways and through tele-connections. And the Indian monsoon, we know, is the backbone of the agriculture dominated Indian economy. The event provided a convening platform for Indian and international experts in the field of polar science, technology, law and governance to discuss a range of challenges and deliberate responses. The Norwegian Embassy not only sponsored the event, but also hosted a welcoming dinner on the eve of the conference in the garden of the Ambassador’s Residence. This enabled key stakeholders to have informal discussions in advance of the conference. Short speeches were made during the dinner by Ambassador Kamsvåg, Research Director at the Norwegian Polar Institute, Dr Nalan Koc, as well as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Dr Rasik Ravindra.
The two-day conference was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Norwegian engagement was spread across several sessions. Ambassador Kamsvåg participated in a panel about geopolitics as well as the inaugural event. He introduced Norway’s new #Arctic Strategy and the highly successful research collaboration between India and Norway on polar issues. He also underlined Norway’s hopes for further strengthening of scientific joint efforts through the Horizon 2020 calls for projects.
Scientific studies in the polar regions and high altitude need technology that can withstand the cold temperatures. In the session on cold climate technology. Two technology providers from Norway introduced their latest technology to the largely Indian audience. They also outlined how the public and private sectors work actively together in Norway to develop technology to enable research with the aim of tackling some of the most pertinent issues that the world is currently facing. This included a presentation of the process of building the brand new Norwegian polar research vessel “Kronprins Haakon”.
Over 200 people attended the conference in person at JNU. On the first day of the conference, the organisers found that around 250 000 people from all over the world watched a live stream of various sessions of the conference. On the second day, the amount of virtual participants reached 285 000. The amount of views of the live stream is still increasing, and if you missed the conference you may also see it on https://www.facebook.com/geographyandyoumagazine/
To find out more about SaGHAA, access the SaGHAA book for 2017 here: http://lights.org.in/wp-content/uploads/SaGHAABook2017.pdf
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