Earth Observation for Climate Change Resilient Mountain Communities

04 Oct 2010



Some 250 participants from 24 countries
are attending the international symposium
‘Benefiting from Earth Observation: Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region’ which opened in Kathmandu today, Monday 4th October. Participants
include government officials, scientists, researchers, development practitioners, policy-makers, youth group members and the media. The symposium, which continues until Wednesday,
aims to promote regional and international cooperation
to improve the access and use of Earth observation for improved scientific knowledge and understanding to support adaptation to climate change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.

The symposium will be inaugurated by the Rt Honourable Subash Chandra Nembang, the Constituent Assembly Chairman, Government of Nepal, in the presence of important dignitaries including the
Guest of Honour, the Honourable Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forest, Government of India;
Professor José Achache, Director of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO)
Secretariat, Switzerland; Mr
Kevin Rushing, USAID Mission Director,
government representatives from ICIMOD’s member countries, and international experts.
A video message from Mr Michael Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), will be delivered on the occasion

This symposium marks an important milestone in promoting regional and international cooperation to bring the benefits of earth observation to the mountain communities of the Himalayan region. ICIMOD as a regional mountain knowledge centre aims to provide a regional platform for policy and decision makers, professionals, and academics from the region and beyond to share and learn from each others’ experience and strengthen regional and international networking. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region can benefit immensely from Earth observation to gain insights into the regional status and trends related to climatic and other environmental changes of a transboundary nature, and their implications at the global level. With participation by all space agencies from the countries of the Himalayan region, and supported by NASA and other international partners, the symposium will pave the way to synergise efforts among regional and global initiatives to bridge the data gap in the Himalayan region.

The seven sessions will cover (i) remote sensing of snow; (ii) remote sensing of glaciers; (iii) spatial decision support systems (DSS) for ecosystem management; (iv) space-based information for disaster management; (v) land cover change and carbon stocks; (vi) transboundary air pollution monitoring ; and (vii) spatial data infrastructure for climate change adaptation. A further 70 contributions to the main themes will be presented at an exhibition and poster pavilion that will be inaugurated during the opening ceremony.

In the words of Dr Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, “We hope that the symposium will provide a platform for building synergies among national, regional, and international initiatives for the sharing of earth observation data to help bridge the gap in the data needed to support climate change adaptation, and to further promote cooperation among ICIMOD’s regional member countries.”

Mr Basanta Shrestha, Head of ICIMOD’s MENRIS Division, remarked, “The participation and support by key regional and international institutions is a clear manifestation of the strong support and commitment to the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region in addressing issues of climate change adaptation.”

The symposium is being organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in cooperation with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and with collaboration from the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Science and Technology; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and four regional space agencies -- the Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARSSO), China
Meteorological Administration
(CMA), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and
Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (

A youth forum on empowering youth with earth observation information, and a pre-symposium workshop on space-based information for disaster preparedness and risk management preceded the symposium; the week will conclude with a SERVIR-Himalaya Inception Workshop on 7 October.

Throughout the events, participants and others will be able to share their thoughts, ideas, and criticism using Twitter (@EarthSymposium), Facebook, and a specifically created Blog (
Comments, interviews, videos and creative ideas will be put online to reach an international audience.

For more information please contact:

Basanta Shrestha
Division Head
Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information System (MENRIS)
Tel +977-1-5003222 Fax +977-1-5003277