People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake if China does not cooperate with its regional neighbors over downstream effects of the Tibetan plateau’s glaciers. The Hindu Kush Himalayas’ (HKH) numerous glaciers are known as the “Water Towers of Asia” and the “Third Pole.” Over 1.9 billion people depend on water systems that stem from HKH glaciers. Climate change will fundamentally alter the hydrology of the water basins—killing or displacing thousands of people as the changes unfold. Asia cannot continue with national or bilateral plans being the primary climate change adaptation strategies: basin-wide cooperation is essential. Unfortunately, conflicts and simmering disputes in the region make this a staggering goal to achieve.

Regional Importance of the HKH Glaciers

Ten major Asian rivers originate from the HKH glaciers, including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, and Mekong. Glacial and snow meltwaters from the…

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