The Himalayas and their glaciers supply water for much of South and Southeast Asia through the tributaries that the runoff of these glaciers flows into.
This region is often thought of as the ‘third pole’ of the earth due to the 600 billion tons of ice it boasts. The problem is that these glaciers, like most globally, are melting faster than has ever been recorded due to climate change.
This continuous melt will very quickly add stress to already noted water management problems in the region.
The Hill reports:
“Finding water management solutions downstream from the Himalayas is no simple prospect. Multilateral water management bodies such as the Mekong River Commission have a mixed record, and China, in particular, continues to preference bilateral agreements over regional deal-making. As a result, upstream water infrastructure is often developed without basin-level impacts in mind, leading to unintended consequences downstream that are difficult to manage — particularly in the context of rapidly melting glaciers.”
It is a case of a need for people to adapt to new environmental realities, particularly concerning cultivating water-dependent crops, such as rice.
Tensions have already started to arise in the nations that depend upon the Himalayas for their water supply.
Much diplomacy and negotiation will be needed to establish a mutually agreeable sharing of water resources between these nations.
Public education around water conservation and preservation of natural resources may also be part of the solution.