ICIMOD connects the Himalayas to the Arctic


Director General Dr David Molden and Director Programme Operations Dr Eklabya Sharma of ICIMOD participated in the inaugural Arctic Circle meetings on the invitation of the President of Iceland from 11 to 14 October 2013. 

Dr David Molden said the Arctic and Hindu Kush Himalayan region have a lot of issues in common including melting ice and a diverse population dependent on these resources. “Therefore, there are many lessons that can be shared, and many issues including climate change that can be brought to the global community,” he said.  

The Arctic Circle is an open assembly designed to facilitate broad international dialogue and foster greater cooperation on Arctic issues. Present at the inaugural meetings were several senior officials from the HKH countries. 

During the plenary, Director General Dr David Molden made a presentation and participated in a panel on the HKH region together with Professor Yao Tandong Director, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Larry Brilliant, President of Skol Global Threats Fund; and Kuupik Kleist, Member, Parliament of Greenland. The panel was chaired by Arjun Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner of TeleSoft Partners.

One of the sessions of the assembly focused on, ‘Arctic Lessons for the Himalayan/ Third Pole Region’ which was organized by ICIMOD along with the Icelandic Climate Research Fund and Skoll Global Threats Fund. Dr David Molden and Dr Eklabya Sharma presented the concept of an HKH assessment “A Comprehensive Assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalayas: Action to Sustain the Global Asset” which was broadly accepted by the group as a means of advancing science and bringing issues to policymakers. 

Discussions were also held on whether a group could be formed modeled somewhat on the Arctic Council where regional science could be brought to the attention of policymakers to facilitate regional cooperation on environmental issues. The closed meeting was attended by members of key governmental and non-governmental organizations including the National Planning Commissions of Nepal and India, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs of Bangladesh, Department of Geology and Mines, Bhutan,  Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), IUCN, WWF, Paulsen Editions, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, and GRID-Arendal. In the session, similarities and differences between the Arctic and the Himalayas were discussed, and ways to share the lessons learned were also delved into. The Vice Chair of the Nepal Planning Commission and ICIMOD Board Chair, Dr Rabindra Shakya, summed up the discussions emphasizing the role of science in regional cooperation. 

Dr David Molden and Dr Eklabya Sharma met with the University of the Arctic Board to share ideas between this consortium of universities and the Himalayan University Consortium. The University of the Arctic Board is a cooperative network of more than 150 universities, colleges, and other organizations dedicated to education, research, and the promotion of indigenous and local capacities and sustainable development in the circumpolar North. The University of the Arctic Board agreed to provide its lessons as input to the Himalayan University Consortium strategies.