The roof of the world. Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten highest mountains and the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar region — glaciers that feed almost all the major river systems in Asia, providing a lifeline to over 1.3 billion people. This small landlocked nation emits a mere 0.027 percent of global greenhouse gases, a minute contribution toward global warming. Yet Nepal is one of the countries at greatest risk from the impact of climate change.
Nepal is currently one of the least developed countries on Earth, with the lowest per capita energy consumption. However, with a largely rural population that relies heavily on natural resources and a press toward modernization, Nepal is facing numerous environmental challenges, including air pollution in its urban centers, deforestation, erosion, watershed disruption, pesticide use, and indoor air pollution related to the burning of wood for fuel. Global warming, meanwhile, is instigating rapid melting of critical glacial ice, increasing extreme climate-related events, and threatening the livelihoods of millions of already impoverished communities. Inadequate infrastructure, lack of institutional capacity, and a high dependence on natural resources constrain climate change resilience and are a major challenge for the people of Nepal.
Due in part to its rugged terrain and lack of reliable infrastructure, educational and technological advances have been slow to reach rural communities in Nepal. More than half of Nepali primary school students do not continue on to secondary school. Of those who do, only half again graduate. (You can read more about Nepal’s schools on our Education page.)
The World Bank has noted that the most successful advances in quality of life and education in Nepal have been concentrated at the community level and stem from community-based initiatives. These initiatives include bringing renewable energy to remote communities, often in the form of micro-hydro plants. Tourism has also helped boost the economy in Nepal, with adventure-seekers, mountaineers, and world travelers drawn to the high mountains, remote beauty, and diverse cultures of this small nation. Tourism is in fact the largest industry in Nepal, and the largest source of foreign exchange and revenue. It brings its own environmental concerns, however, especially as related to the increasing number of climbers tackling Everest each year.
Ultimately, Nepal houses a wealth of ecological diversity, a multifaceted cultural base, and some of most majestic geographical wonders on Earth. The Earthducation team will travel from the urban center of Kathmandu, to the tourist mecca of Pokhara, the small mountain village of Nangi, and the farm-strewn plains in the south. The Earthducation team will spend time in each region learning about the unique cultures, education and sustainability challenges, and innovations there.
The team will share live field updates from Nepal as they visit communities and schools and interview teachers, community elders and leaders, environmental organizations, and a diverse array of individuals from many walks of life. We hope you’ll join us live between April 27 and May 8 as the team posts sustainability stories, photos, and videos from Nepal!
QUICK FACTS ABOUT NEPAL
- Eight of the world’s ten highest mountains are found in Nepal, including Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
- Though almost 86 percent of the country’s land area is covered by hills and steep, rugged mountains, Nepal possesses the greatest altitude variation of any country, ranging from 59 meters (194 ft) in the tropical Terai, to the peak of Mount Everest at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet).
- The Himalayas have the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar region, leading to a sometimes designation as the “Third Pole.”
- Himalayan glaciers provide the headwaters for almost all the major river systems in Asia, a lifeline for over 1.3 billion people.
- Nepal is home to 90 peaks over 7,000 meters (22,966 ft).
- Nepal has more than 6,000 rivers and rivulets, with a total of 45,000 km (almost 28,000 miles) in length.
- Nepal has the lowest per capita energy consumption in the world.
- Approximately 8 million people, or 30 percent of Nepal’s households, lack access to electricity.
- 78 percent of households rely on traditional biomass for cooking, primarily wood fuel.