Alarms are ringing throughout the world: the most ruinous floods in Pakistan’s history, the worst drought in a generation in East Africa, Everest base camp turned from a frigid outpost to a lakeside camp. These are all signs that climate change is accelerating while most countries are failing to meet their pledges to reduce their carbon emissions. Ian Fry, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change, said that “climate change is the largest, most pervasive threat to the natural environment and societies that we’ve ever experienced. And the poorest countries are paying the highest price.”
Voices from the Roof of the World, an environmental documentary series sponsored by the Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Aga Khan Foundation and University of Central Asia, aims to raise awareness around this injustice and the climate crisis in High-Mountain Asia.
The series is launching its second season on 6 November 2022, airing on Express News TV in Pakistan, Aga Khan University YouTube, and multiple global platforms.
“There is water draining down all around us. Everywhere you look, we’re surrounded by mountains and rushing streams…. This is no place to live, only for water to drain away.”
Nishat, Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan.
As world leaders gather in Egypt for COP27 to negotiate emissions reduction targets, the people and wildlife living amongst the earth’s highest mountains are already reeling from the impact of climate change. The film series includes a glimpse of what is at stake for the world’s most vulnerable if the talks in Sharm el Sheikh fail to secure new ambitions.
In A Cry from the Mountains, a film capturing the impact of this summer’s record-breaking floods in Pakistan, Nishat, a survivor of this year’s glacial lake outburst floods in Hassanabad, Hunza in Gilgit Baltistan recounts, “there is water draining down all around us. Everywhere you look, we’re surrounded by mountains and rushing streams….This is no place to live, only for water to drain away.”
“We must give these vulnerable communities a voice and all take responsibility to help them cope with this global crisis.”
Prince Hussain Aga Khan
Agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) are committed to enabling the vulnerable to not only survive but thrive despite accelerating climate change. Commenting on the launch, Prince Hussain Aga Khan stated, “The people worst affected by climate change today are least responsible for its causes and too often left to bear this burden alone. We must give these vulnerable communities a voice and all take responsibility to help them cope with this global crisis. Across all our activities the AKDN works with communities, governments, civil society, and the private sector to invest in locally-led climate action and build resilience.”
Through 10 films produced by filmmakers from Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Nepal, Season 2 of Voices from the Roof of the World takes us to high mountain communities whose traditions and very survival is threatened by fast melting glaciers and unpredictable snow and rain. Other episodes will document the threats faced by such iconic species as snow leopards and griffon vultures.
The stories capture the struggle of people and natural habitats that are the least responsible for global warming but already shouldering its catastrophic impacts. Combining local knowledge and innovation, they are also finding ways to adapt and fighting to save diverse ecosystems and precious water sources.
“From Mt. Everest to the Thar desert, these films show us what lies ahead if we fail to heed the warnings from the roof of the world.”
Andrew Tkach, Executive Producer, Roof of the World Season 2
“The last year of devastating fires, droughts, and floods has not spared any part of the planet, although the world’s poorest citizens, living in the most remote communities will bear the greatest burden. We have to listen to their stories,” urges Andrew Tkach, Emmy-winning Executive Producer of the series. “From Mt. Everest to the Thar desert, these films show us what lies ahead if we fail to heed the warnings from the roof of the world.”
Season one of Voices from the Roof of the World was broadcast by Express News TV channel and Deutsche Welle TV YouTube channel (DW TV) in Pakistan on a weekly basis from 31 October 2021 through 2 January 2022. The entire series and many individual episodes were screened at a dozen international film festivals, from Banff to Rotterdam. Find out more about Voices from the Roof of the World and watch Season One: https://www.aku.edu/vrw/Pages/documentary.aspx
This article was written by Trushna Torche, Resource Mobilisation and Communications Coordinator, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat.