… Climate advocate Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk rides solo

YK Poudel 

The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), which is 27 days ahead, will hear the message from about 2 billion people residing along the Himalayas as climate advocate Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk lands in Dubai calling for urgent climate action.

Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, a climate advocate from Bhutan, began his third phase of the journey called “The Messenger-Ride for Action” from Nepal on November 1. His mission is to shed light on the devastating impacts of climate change and mobilise urgent global efforts for adaptation and mitigation.

“The Messenger-Ride for Action” is an attempt to amplify the collective voice of nearly two billion people residing in Himalayan communities, who heavily rely on glacial water and bear the brunt of climate change-induced challenges.

Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, a 40-year-old former actor turned environmental advocate, was inspired to embark on this extraordinary journey during a leadership workshop in New York in 2020, a city that bore witness to the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This third phase will be a solo ride, a recent recession in the US led to the sponsors being pulled out, Ben Clark who was documenting the journey is no longer in this final phase,” Jamyang said.

Jamyang says he is prepared physically and mentally, “I am confident to reach the target.”

As planned, Jamyang cycled from Kathmandu (Nepal) to the Indian border in the first two days. He will ride to Delhi and meet the young advocates collecting their messages for the world leaders.

He will then ride to Karachi (Pakistan) where he wants to meet victims of a major flood last year. “I am carrying their messages and stories from advocates in Delhi to Dubai.”

He said: “The journey is urgent and timely, this time in the Bhutan pavilion, I will be an observer sharing the message in the bottle which we collected from Thorthomi and Everest base, and share the handwritten messages which I collected during the journey.”

The budgetary challenge and the war between Israel and Palestine led to the cancellation of his by-road expedition to Dubai through Oman. “I have to fly from Karachi to Dubai,” Jamyang said.

He will present the symbolic bottle with water from a glacier to the Bhutanese delegation at COP28, imploring them to address the urgent issue of climate change in the presence of global leaders and make an attempt to seek the need to mobilise climate funds.

To underscore the perils of plastic pollution, Jamyang ingeniously repurposed a discarded plastic bottle he found during the first leg in Bhutan, using it to collect melted ice from Thorthomi. “The bottle has evolved into a potent symbol of climate action, while the ice serves as a poignant representation of melting glaciers,” he said.

The campaign revolves around three key messages: planting and nurturing trees, making an immediate transition to renewable energy sources, and integrating climate studies into school curricula.

His second phase of the ride was in Nepal where he reached the people residing at the base camp of the Great Mount Everest.

Next year, he plans to document this journey and the disappearing glaciers in mountainous regions affecting the lower elevations.

“Despite these hurdles, I am hopeful of this journey—Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation is the key agency assisting me at this moment when Ben Clark and the team got pulled off,” he said. Bhutan Ecological Society, Department of Tourism, UNDP Bhutan, ICIMOD and Drukair, among others, are providing assistance as well.

Jamyang’s Messenger-Ride for Action embodies a call to action, emphasising the urgent need for international co-operation and commitment to combat climate change. As he continues his journey, he hopes to inspire a global movement that will ensure a sustainable future for generations.

Similarly, Michael Evertz, a German climate advocate has embarked on a journey since April 22 this year titled “Expedition Hope”—the advocate aims to cover 30,000km reaching 30 countries in 800 days meeting people across these countries and bringing the message of climate change to Dubai.

Expedition Hope, Michael was an expedition for those seeking hope.

He said: “Since the first climate conference in Rio in 1992, politicians have been saying that we can only overcome the climate crisis and environmental destruction together. But not much has changed so far. On the contrary: we are a long way from a cooperative global and responsible community.”

Michael was interested in investing in this journey when he met an Ethiopian farmer who made him realize the harsh living conditions and social consequences of climate change. “Collaboration” among the leaders can make it happen, therefore, he took this journey bringing the message to COP this year.