Global Himalayan Expedition has announced the list of 20 impact adventurers, who will be undertaking the journey to some of the remote parts of Ladakh, during its Annual Expedition in August this year. GHE team also announced the launch of greenhimalayanvillages.com, highlighting the impact initiatives executed at these remote villages and online village experience planned by GHE.
The 2015 contingent consists of a diverse set of individuals, including adventure environmentalists, an Olympian from Denmark, an entrepreneur from Oman, a Harvard MBA student, an Air force Pilot, an investment banker from New York, a social entrepreneur, a high school student from California, a Microsoft engineer from India, amongst several others representing seven countries.
After setting high standards and benchmarks last year, with the setup of first ever Solar Pico-Grid in the Himalayas, Team GHE will not only empower another village in the region this year but will also introduce education and health facilities as part of its continued impact tourism initiative. A futuristic Robotics Lab will also be setup at the Third Pole Education Base (E-Base) for the students of Mahabodhi School, Leh during the course of expedition. The participants will visit the E-Base and learn about the environmental and sustainability related issues affecting the local populace, while simultaneously getting to witness and understand the clean energy solutions in play, supported by the native communities, local leaders, and sustainability experts in the region.
The GHE Expedition team of 20 participants will undertake a trek for two days to reach Umlung, a small village hamlet in the Markha Valley, to setup up three Solar based Pico grids. This shall include carrying solar panels, batteries, and electrical wire roles and LED light bulbs on horse-backs. The village has been built around one of the most sacred and ancient Monasteries of the region, the Techa Monastery. Team GHE will be engaged for two days to setup and install the solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, LED bulbs, and power up the village, including the monastery through solar generated electricity.
According to Paras Loomba, founder and expedition leader, GHE said, “We at GHE believe in promoting adventure tourism as one of the tools to develop these remote Himalayan regions, which are rich in heritage, bio-diversity and natural resources. Through our expedition, we make our participants experience the centuries old cultural heritage of the Himalayas and introduce technology as one of the tools to develop and empower these local communities toward leveraging clean energy solutions.”
These Solar Pico-Grids are a first-of-its-kind installation in the Himalayas with an easy to setup process, safe in operation, and requiring low maintenance. Considering the terrain, it could be the ideal solution toward solving the electricity issues in the remote Himalayan villages. As these grids would eventually be owned and maintained by the villagers itself, the solution can be easily replicated in other regions of Ladakh. The energy access acts as a great tool to enhance the income generation of the local population, by helping in the increase of home stays by trekkers and tourists alike. GHE Team will also work on improving the existing infrastructure of the village households and connecting these villages to the outside world by designing village specific micro-websites. These sites will enable the villagers to promote village home stays by providing local contact details and provisioning direct online bookings for the travelers.
GHE has been constantly engaging with the students at the Mahabodhi Residential School, Leh through conducting the Annual Global Third Pole Education Base (E-Base) Fellowship. The selected Fellows help students conduct projects on sustainability related themes, experience design thinking, and undertake field visits to understand solar power generation and bio-diversity of the region. This year Team GHE will also be setting up a Robotics Lab at the Third Pole E-Base, to introduce and promote science and technology among the students of Leh, where tourism is the only career option as seen by youngsters.
Robert Swan, OBE, advisor to GHE, stresses on the importance of clean energy towards the preservation of the mighty Himalayan. He adds “The most valuable part of this initiative is always the adventure and cultural exchange between the visitors and hosts [local communities]. When adventure coincides with impact, the progeny ‘Impact Adventure’ can be profoundly enriching as visitors can equate the conservation programs they’re experiencing to their hosts’ livelihoods and quality of life. The 2015 edition of GHE will bring a new era of adventure tourism, which promotes not only social growth while conserving the environment- a first of its kind initiative in the world- but also encourages use of clean and renewable technology for these communities.”
The GHE Team this year will also be carrying devices provided by Goal Zero, one of the leading manufacturer of portable solar power products. “This Global Himalayan Expedition encompasses all of the areas that Goal Zero supports, expeditions and humanitarian work. We are excited to be a part of this, and look forward to the outcome of this project,” the company announced.
Over 800 applications were received for the participation in this year’s Expedition, and the following 20 candidates were selected after multiple rounds of screening and interviews.