China, India and Nepal agree on a common way forward for conservation and sustainable development of the Kailash Sacred Landscape

13 Apr 2010

Representatives from China, India and Nepal agreed on a common framework for developing a conservation strategy and environmental monitoring plan as a first step towards developing a regional cooperation framework for the Kailash Sacred Landscape, the transboundary region linked to the sacred mountain, also known as Kang Rinpoche, Gangrenboqi Feng, and Kailasa Parvata. The representatives met at the First Regional Workshop on the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation Initiative held from 11 to 13 April 2010, in Almora, Uttarakhand, India. The Workshop was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and hosted by the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED), supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation Initiative (KSLCI) focuses on developing a transboundary regional cooperation framework for conservation and sustainable development. The preparatory phase of 18 months started in August 2009 following consultations with governments and partners in China, India and Nepal. This Initiative is the first pilot for implementation of ICIMOD’s ‘Trans-Himalayan Transects Programme’ which encompasses seven landscapes and four transects in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, and aims to focus and increase the effectiveness of research and development activities.

Development of the Regional Cooperation Framework for the Kailash Landscape is being facilitated by ICIMOD with support from UNEP. The Landscape, which includes the southwestern portions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, and adjacent Himalayan regions in India and Nepal, is among the most culturally and ecologically diverse and fragile areas in the world, and has sacred significance for hundreds of millions of people in Asia, and around the globe The framework is expected to focus on transboundary biodiversity, and environmental and cultural conservation; scientific and technical cooperation; information exchange and sharing; and regional guidelines and policy mechanisms. The framework is being prepared based on the principles of participatory management, equity, sustainability, partnerships, ecosystem approach, lessons-learned approach, and transboundary cooperation.

This first regional workshop had 35 participants representing 18 institutions and including senior government officials led by Joint Secretaries from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal, and senior officials from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, PR China. Representatives of the lead partners – the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, India, and the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Nepal – reported the progress of the feasibility assessment studies and the review of the policy and enabling environment. The feasibility assessment included delineation of the target landscape by each of the countries following common agreed criteria, and the workshop finalised the landscape area. Other topics in the feasibility included country-wise descriptions of the landscape, status of resources, culture and heritage sites, tourism/pilgrimage status and potentials, environmental degradation and cultural integrity, identification of priority areas, community perception on biodiversity, cultural values and best-suited livelihood options, enabling environment assessment through policy review and finally the identification of gap areas. All three countries will finalise their reports after these discussions. ICIMOD will prepare a regional landscape map, and synthesise the feasibility report, policy and enabling environment report, conservation strategy, and environmental monitoring plan, all of which will feed into the regional cooperation framework.

Mr Hem Pande, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India emphasised the participatory and people-centred approach that is being adopted in the preparation of the Framework. Mr Tim Kasten, Deputy Director of UNEP’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation suggested that sustainability needs to given special consideration. Dr Yang Yongping, Deputy Director of the Institute of the Tibetan Plateau and Professor at Kunming Institute of Botany, advised that regional issues are highly relevant for cooperation, which needs to emerge from the workshops. The Director of GBPIHED, Dr LMS Palni emphasised the importance of the Landscape and the Initiative in the context of the recent challenges arising from climate change. Dr Eklabya Sharma of ICIMOD stressed the importance of adhering to conceptual clarity and the process whereby countries agree at every stage to the methodologies and documents prepared on the Landscape for the Cooperation Framework.

On 13 April, participants were able to see for themselves some of the biodiversity and environment conservation initiatives of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development and talk to the farmers involved during a field visit to Kausani and nearby areas. They also had an opportunity to visit the Institute itself and to look around the Nature Interpretation Centre at Katarmal.

The Second Regional Workshop on the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation Initiative will be held in early September 2010 at Jiuzaigou in the eastern Tibetan Plateau of Sichuan Province of PR China.

Read more about the Initiative at

For more information please contact:

Dr Krishna Prasad Oli
Regional Coordinator, Kailash Landscape Project/ICIMOD

Ms Nira Gurung
Communications Officer/ICIMOD  
Tel. +977 1 5003222