Conservation of the snow leopard and its habitat is strongly linked to the welfare of local communities. Rapidly changing climate patterns and an increase in the number extreme weather events are having large negative impacts on mountain ecosystems in the Central Asia and Himalaya Region as well as causing large economic losses to humans residing in these mountainous regions. Therefore it is imperative to link community based snow leopard conservation, a cornerstone of the GSLEP program, with efforts to improve climate adaptation capacity in this ecologically fragile region.
The UNFCCC CoP 21 meeting in Paris provides an ideal setting to broadly discuss the impacts of climate change on snow leopards, their ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities residing in snow leopard habitat. With participation from all snow leopard range countries at CoP 21, a GSLEP side meeting there will provide an opportunity to brief range countries and partners on the progress made under the program since the first GSLEP Steering Committee meeting in March 2015 as well as to highlight the extreme impacts of climate change on snow leopard range areas. Key issues to be discussed include progress on management planning, information sharing mechanisms (website, newsletter, etc.), status of GEF and other grants to achieve GSLEP goals, engagement with industries and economic evaluations of snow leopard landscapes, and partner activities in support of the GSLEP process.