Nepal has lost almost a third of its ice volume in three decades, with glaciers melting 65 percent faster in the past decade than in the previous decade.
“The roofs of the world are collapsing,” the UN chief said, warning that the “disappearance of glaciers in their entirety” risks becoming even worse.
“Glaciers are icy reservoirs; those here in the Himalayas provide fresh water to well over a billion people. When they shrink, the rivers flow too,” he added.
Communities are erased forever
Glaciers high in the Himalayas feed major river systems, supporting crops, livestock and local economies, in a region home to more than 1.8 billion people.
But rising global temperatures due to climate change are causing glacial snow ice that has been compressed over centuries to melt faster than ever – not just in the Himalayas, but also in crucial areas such as Antarctica and Greenland.
Mr Guterres warned that major Himalayan rivers such as the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra could massively reduce flows in the future and, combined with salt water, decimate delta areas.
“That portends a catastrophe: low-lying lands and communities will be erased forever,” he said.
End the era of fossil fuels
The Secretary-General said his mission to the Everest region was to “shout out from the roof of the world.”
“Stop the madness,” he insisted, underscoring the need to end the age of fossil fuels to protect people on the front lines of the destruction caused by climate change.
“We must act now to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C to avoid the worst climate chaos. The world can’t wait,” he concluded.
Official visit to Nepal
The UN chief is making an official visit to Nepal at the invitation of the government.
On Sunday, Mr. Guterres, along with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, addressed the media and expressed deep condolences to the families of the 10 Nepali students killed in the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7.
He reiterated his call for the protection of all civilians in Gaza, and renewed his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of sustainable humanitarian assistance on a scale that meets the needs of the population of Gaza.