do the Himalaya have rights?


In Nepal, a real-time "David and Goliath" story is currently playing out in the Himalaya.

Only this time, there are two Goliaths, and their defeat will protect billions of people. As climate change transforms the world's tallest mountains and glaciers, Nepal - a tiny country sandwiched between two of the world's largest carbon emitters (China and India) - is taking legal action. The Nepali government started addressing climate change in 2009. Yet recently, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) met with delegates to the Nepali Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary members in partnership with the Center for Economic and Social Development to draft legislative language to support national protections against climate change. Essentially, by giving the Himalayan ecosystem legal rights under the Nepali constitution, Nepal could give voice to the mountains and hold its neighbors accountable for its excess carbon pollution. This is a story about livelihoods, long-term water security, and the relationship people hold with the mountains. In the tall peaks, climate change has led to significant glacier loss, unpredictable avalanche events, and shorter climbing seasons. In the foothills, it has led to major flood events, landslides, and unpredictable growing seasons. For Nepal, its contribution to climate change is negligible, yet it is experiencing a disproportionate amount of its impact. Sometimes the mightiest of leaders are the most unexpected. For the Himalaya, let’s just hope it will be in time.

There is still time to make our laws recognize the right of rivers to flow, prohibit acts that destabilize the Earth’s climate, and impose respect for the inherent worth of every living being.
— Alberto Acosta