Sonam Wangchuk is an engineer who has come up with an innovative way to provide fresh water to villages in Ladakh, one of the high-altitude deserts in the world located in the Himalayas.

Wangchuk sources water from streams and uses it to create artificial glaciers, which store fresh water until it’s needed in springtime.

The inventor—whose past projects include solar-powered buildings and efficient cookstoves—won a Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2016. He is using the winnings to establish a pan-Himalayan research university that will address the region’s environmental concerns.

Wangchuk hopes that if locals adapt now, their descendants won’t become climate refugees. “We in the mountains are minorities, not just ethnically but climatewise,” he says. “Things that work in New York or New Delhi do not work in the mountains. We have to find our own solutions for our problems.”

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