UNDP launches Glacial Hackathon to combat Climate Change in northern Pakistan

Pakistan’s northern region, home to over 13,000 glaciers spanning the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, and the Himalayan Mountain ranges, is facing significant climate-induced challenges, with about 10,000 glaciers currently receding.

To tackle the significant climate-induced challenges in Pakistan’s northern region, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change & Environmental Coordination and the Green Climate Fund, has rolled out awareness sessions including the launch of the Glacial Hackathon.

This initiative is part of the Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) Project, which aims to develop innovative solutions to protect the valleys of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) from the impacts of glacial melting.

The hackathon, organized in partnership with Cirrus Pakistan, will involve awareness sessions at universities and colleges in GB and KP, encouraging students and innovators to create climate-conscious solutions focused on disaster risk reduction and sustainable livelihoods.

The project’s latest endeavor is a series of awareness sessions at various universities and colleges in GB and KP, culminating in a climate-centric hackathon. Organized in partnership with Cirrus Pakistan, this hackathon invites students and innovators to develop climate-conscious solutions focused on livelihood interventions and disaster risk reduction practices.

Dr. Allah Ditta, Chairman of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, emphasized the importance of engaging youth in these initiatives. “Collective efforts in engaging our youth through such initiatives will pave the way for innovative solutions to combat the severe impacts of climate change in our region,” he stated.

Sumaira Gul, a student from Karakoram International University, expressed her motivation to participate in the hackathon. “The severity of the situation has encouraged me to participate in this hackathon, hoping to contribute to sustainable solutions that will protect our communities and environment,” she said during an awareness session.

The GLOF-II project, active in 16 valleys of Gilgit Baltistan and 8 valleys in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, aims to empower communities to manage risks associated with GLOFs and related climate change impacts. The project strengthens public services to reduce disaster risks, improves community preparedness and disaster response, and supports sustainable livelihood development, particularly emphasizing the role of women in ensuring food security and livelihoods.

As Pakistan confronts the pressing issue of glacial retreat and its consequences, the Glacial Hackathon represents a critical step in fostering innovative, locally-driven solutions to enhance climate resilience and protect vulnerable communities.

Salma Khan
Salma writes on topics ranging from education to technology to business. She can be reached at Twitter and Facebook.

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