Saving Mount Everest Project 2011/12

Mount Everest, also known locally as Sagarmatha or Chomolungma, is the highest summit in the world. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is located in the Himalayan range on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Ever since the first attempts to scale the mountain in the early 1920s, Mount Everest has inspired and attracted people from all over the world.

Nepal is an impoverished developing country, consistently ranking among the lowest on the UN human development index. Especially for struggling mountain communities, tourism is a major source of revenue – and Mt. Everest/Sagarmatha represents the crown jewel of Nepalese tourism. However, the enormous increase in visitors to the Everest region in recent decades has brought serious strains and severe negative effects on the sensitive environment of Mt. Everest itself as well as along the many popular trails of Sagarmatha/Everest National Park.

Although many activities aimed at solving the problem of solid waste have been conducted, there is today no functioning waste management system and little local experience or know-how of handling such large amounts of rubbish in an environmentally sustainable way. Existing rules and regulations on waste management are simply not enough, nor are they effectively enforced.

Fortunately, there is growing local recognition of the importance of dealing with these environmental problems, including the implementation of a new waste management system. The project described here has been initiated by the local people themselves, and will adhere to a participatory approach involving the local communities in all aspects.This project follows a bottom–up approach, building on existing structures and established policies.

Expected Goals of the Project

The overall goals of the project are to conserve and manage the rich biological diversity of Nepal’s Sagarmatha/Everest National Park. The emphasis is on solid waste management and on supporting and strengthening local communities as the caretakers of biodiversity conservation.

Expected Outcome

  • At least 70% of the local residents aware of the importance and relevance of waste management and potential threats from climate change.
  • National policies on waste management and Code of Conduct for local people and tourists implemented.
  • Approximately eight tons of garbage collected from Mount Everest and along the trekking routes from Lukla to Everest Base Camp.
  • At least 15 waste management plants installed.
  • Local institutions operating and managing these waste management systems through 100 specially trained people.


  1. Increase knowledge and awareness on solid waste management and biodiversity conservation among local population as well as tourists
  2. Implement policies and procedures for responsible solid waste management.
  3. Improve capacities for solid waste management.
  4. Develop new revenue opportunities.
  5. Remove environmentally hazardous waste from Everest climbing and trekking routes in the Khumbu region.


In order to achieve the project goals, the following activities are proposed:

  1. A clean-up expedition on Mount Everest will be conducted in spring 2011 to remove approximately eight tons of rubbish from the mountain.
  2. The rubbish collected will be sorted and responsibly handled in accordance with international standards.
  3. Local garbage and recycling facilities will be installed and implemented along the trekking routes from Lukla to Everest Base Camp.
  4. A new set of regulations on the Code of Conduct will be formulated for all future trekking and climbing groups to the area, constituting a platform for an environmentally sustainable system for the entire region.
  5. Information and awareness-raising training on modern waste management and recycling techniques will enable local villagers to take over responsibility for running these facilities, thereby establishing local motivation as well as creating local job and income opportunities.
  6. Establish and operate tourism information centers in Namche Bazar and Lukla in coordination with Local youth club and mother’s group.
  7. Equitable job opportunities will be created for disadvantaged groups and females through providing necessary training on community and home-stay tourism, hospitality and environment.
  8. Public relations and media campaigns in Nepal and abroad through good will ambassador, documentary, webpage and press release.

Our Partners

The project enjoys the full support of the Government of Nepal through the Ministry of Environment and Science, which will introduce new environmental regulations for climbing expeditions as well as for trekking groups to the Everest region as of spring 2011.

The project will be implemented by EcoHimal Austria in cooperation with the following local and international partners:

Everest Summiteers Association (ESA) and EcoHimal Nepal: senior partners in Nepal

Tommy Gustafsson, Steve Perryman Sport Travel AB, Sweden: advisory role.

Local partners at village level, including the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC)

The following ministries, companies and organizations have already confirmed their commitment and will support this project with cash or in-kind contributions:

Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of Nepal

Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal

Ministry of Environment and Science, Government of Nepal

Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal

Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB)

Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA)

Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN)

Lions Club, Nepal

Yeti Airlines, Nepal

Agni Airlines, Nepal

Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC)

UNESCO Kathmandu

EOG Association for Conservation (headquarters in Switzerland)

Initial funding to start this project has been provided by the Swedish PostkodStiftelsen.
Ensuring local ownership is a primary goal of this project.

All project activities will be planned, implemented and monitored by local communities and institutions – including the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, local government and relevant national and regional stakeholders.

Notable Everest summiteers like Sir Chris Bonnington, David Breashears, Renata Chlumska, Frederik Sträng, Johan Ernst Nilson, Michael Palin and Wolfgang Nairz have agreed to support the project as goodwill ambassadors.

Stakeholders in the Project

Local communities are the most important stakeholders. In addition to implementing the project, they will contribute toward many of its activities by providing labour or making available local materials for construction purposes.

  • The Village Development Committees and district-line agencies, including Sagarmatha National Park, will provide technical and administrative support for project implementation.
  • The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Trekking Agents Association (TAAN) are the national agencies promoting tourism in this region.
  • The Nepal Social Welfare Council is the national governmental authority for approval of projects and their monitoring and evaluation.

Time Frame

Project Period:

  • October 2010 – September 2012
  • Kick-off meeting of partners in Nepal, October 2010.
  • Detailed planning and preparation, October 2010 to March 2011
  • Implementation phase, April 2011 to June 2012
  • Concluding phase, July to October 2012


Everest clean-up 2011: US$ 480,000
Waste management, recycling systems,
Institutional development and training: US$ 150,000
Project management & administration: US$ 150,000
Total Budget: US$ 780,000

Concluding Remarks

This important international project is dependent on financial support from companies and other organizations to be able to fulfill its objectives. For companies and organizations with awareness of environmental issues as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR), this benchmark project offers a unique opportunity to communicate environmental awareness and commitment, internally as well as to a global audience.