Meet the Member – The Glacier Trust

By Dr Morgan Phillips on 30 August 2019

The Glacier Trust design and deliver climate change adaptation projects in remote regions of Nepal. Continuing the work of its founder Robin Garton, the Trust works together with local partner organisations to ensure a transition works for all of those effected. In this instalment of our ‘Meet the Members’ series we discuss their work in more detail and their reasons behind joining the Alliance.

Why did you join the Rapid Transition Alliance?

Climate change is no longer a distant prospect. It never really was; it has been causing disruption for many years already – something the late Robin Garton, founder of The Glacier Trust, recognised over ten years ago while travelling and living with remote mountain communities in Nepal. We are in the midst of a mass extinction event and climate breakdown is exacerbating this. To paraphrase Greta Thunberg, a rapid transition is coming whether we like it or not. We need to work together to ensure transition is equitable, mindful and positive. The Glacier Trust is continuing Robin Garton’s work enabling remote mountain communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change right now. Whilst our work can enable transition in a handful of villages, change is needed at a macro level. We have joined the Rapid Transition Alliance because it is only by working together that we can create lasting, systemic change.

What for you is the biggest challenge of rapid transition?

The biggest challenge to rapid transition is the need for a widespread letting go of a set of values and ways of living that have dominated economics, politics and culture for over a century. The ecological and climate crisis is now so far advanced that life will never return to how it was before. We need to adapt to the unfolding crisis and do everything we can to limit its pace. This can only happen if we as human beings are able to change from within.

What is your organisation doing to encourage rapid transition?

As we understand it, we have two roles. First, we enable communities to transition to more climate resilient and ecologically mindful ways of living; in this context we don’t prescribe or impose ‘solutions’. We are led by the communities and people we engage with in Nepal and provide them with resources they tell us they need. Second, we advocate for faster and deeper adaptation to climate change. In the UK and much of the global north, adaptation remains in the shadow of mitigation in the conversations around climate change. By shining a light on it, we can help draw attention to the need for more and better adaptation.

What is your favourite example of rapid transition?

Right now, we are especially inspired by the ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ movement in the northern Syria/Kurdistan region. In the coming decades, climate and ecological breakdown will be a trigger for social collapse at local, regional and potentially global levels. Rojavan’s are bravely developing new forms of governance to rebuild their lives in the wake of horrendous civil war; in doing this, they are placing ecology at the heart of their decision making. It is a fragile process, but they are transitioning to a new way of life and rapidly – much can be learned.



Only 0.76% of articles written by the UK’s leading environmental organisations focus on climate change adaptation.

This report presents findings from desk research into the prevalence, or not, of stories covering climate change adaptation. 

Read more here.

What one thing would best help the task of rapid transition?

Focusing on ‘one thing’, the much maligned ‘silver bullet’, has plagued the environmental movement for decades. Change emerges from the interrelationships between ‘things’. By bringing together things that have to date stood apart, we may find the catalysts for rapid transition.


Dr Morgan Phillips

Morgan is Co-Director of the UK branch of The Glacier Trust.