International Conference on Resilient HKH begins in Kathmandu

More than four hundred experts in Kathmandu to discuss solutions for mountain community

To address the growing challenges of mountains and mountain communities, the Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE), Government of Nepal and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) are co-hosting the international conference on “Resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya: Developing Solutions towards a Sustainable Future for Asia”, in Kathmandu, Nepal. The conference is being held from December 3-6, focusing on ideas and solutions to create effective and sustainable changes to improve mountain livelihoods.

The Right Honorable Bidya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal, inaugurated the conference yesterday.

After the inauguration, President on her remarks, urged for the cooperation between all the countries for the sustainable development of Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) to address the growing challenges of people and communities affected by climate change in the region.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari addressing the conference. Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

She further said, “I wish for the success of the conference and believe that the conference would come up with practical and progressive recommendations for the sustainable development of social, economic, social, cultural and environmental issues of the region.”

 

The inaugaration was followed by a panel discussion on the role of a resilient HKH for creating a more sustainable Asia.

Four hundred experts from around the world are taking part in the conference. During the four day event, the expert group will be discussing on ideas for strengthening the fragile environments and communities of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), a mountain range that spans from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

Partipants along with the Hon’ble President at the group photo session. Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

The HKH sources 10 major river systems in Asia that provide water, ecosystem services, and livelihoods to more than 210 million people. The region holds and distributes water for more than 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins. Climate change and other drivers of change in the HKH have already begun to impact ecosystems and communities increasing vulnerability and exposure to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and landslides.

Resilience is the ability of communities and ecosystems to be prepared for shocks, recover from shocks, and “bounce forward” to emerge stronger than before. ICIMOD and its partners have been working on developing solutions for resilience building, promoting regional cooperation, and enhancing knowledge for sustainable mountain development. For an effective response to the complex challenges facing the HKH, multiple actors need to come together and share knowledge, and develop collective vision for the region.

The conclusions drawn from the conference will add a mountain perspective to larger global agreements, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the United Nations’ set of milestones for eradicating poverty and tackling climate change by 2030. The Resilience conference is an indication that ICIMOD’s eight regional member countries recognize the need for a collaborative approach to achieve the SDG targets.

“I hope the outcomes of this conference will contribute toward improving the socio-economic conditions of the people living in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region”, said Honourable Mithila Chaudhary, Minister of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal.

Similarly, Secretary Prakash Mathema, Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal, said that “the adverse impacts of climate change and other drivers of change pose serious threats to our development efforts, so urgent actions are required from all to build the resilience of people and ecosystems.”

EU’s Ambassador to Nepal, Veronica Cody delivering speech. Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

The European Union is providing support to this conference through ICIMOD’s “Himalica” initiative. The EU’s Ambassador to Nepal, Veronica Cody, said “I am sure that this conference will make a strong contribution to understanding the concept of resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalaya better and to mapping the way forward –for the benefit of the region, Asia and the world at large.”

Dasho Rinzin Dorji, ICIMOD Board Chair and Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Government of Bhutan, said, “This international conference is timely as climate change is a reality we face and we must prepare to be resilient so that our future generations do not suffer”.

ICIMOD’s Director General, David Molden said, “At ICIMOD, we know that mountains face challenges, but they also provide opportunity: opportunities for collaboration, opportunities for partnership and private investment, opportunities for youth and opportunities to envision and work toward a future where mountains can become examples of changes that can inspire the rest of the world. We know that mountains can bring us together.”

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