A new approach to the Third Pole

The UK government’s chief scientific advisor, John Beddington, praised chinadialogue and partners’ new report on the vulnerabilities of the Third Pole region as an “excellent example of a bridge between policy and science” at an event to mark the study’s release at the House of Lords last night.

For a piece of work that hopes to kickstart a more cohesive approach to this critical region – in which different disciplines come together to try to solve its complex set of climate-related problems – the turnout was encouraging. Humanitarian workers, civil servants, business people, academics and journalists were all in the audience (though our host, Lord Dubs, pointed out that the low number of politicians present was a sign of the work still needed to impress the issue on the minds of key policymakers).

Speakers from each of the organisations to author the report – chinadialogue, King’s College London and University College London – used the launch to press home the enormity of the challenges facing the Third Pole region, a politically, culturally and geographically diverse part of the world that provides water to some 1.2 billion people and is already experiencing the effects of rapid climate change.

Randolph Kent, director of KCL’s Humanitarian Futures Programme also called for a more imaginative approach from the humanitarian community in preparations for regional crises such as flooding, drought and intra-regional conflict – and for the possibility of multiple disasters happening at once. A radical shift in thinking, which abandoned the notion of the “resilient north and the hapless south” was needed, he said.