Regional centre marks 30th anniversary

04 Dec 2013


Kathmandu, Nepal

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development celebrates three decades for mountains and people

Thirty years ago the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, India, Nepal, and Pakistan came together to create an organization to work on issues relevant to the people and environment of the Hindu Kush Himalayas. Today, that organization – the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) – has taken large strides to support mountain people and ecosystems in the region adapt to change and carved out a niche role in promoting regional cooperation to address common issues. 

The establishment of an international centre to promote sustainable mountain development was recommended in December 1974 at the International Workshop on the Development of Mountain Environment in Munich, Germany. The Government of Nepal offered to host the centre – the first of its kind in the country – and in September 1981, a formal agreement between Nepal and UNESCO was signed at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. On 5 December 1983, ICIMOD was inaugurated. The centre remains dedicated to its vision of helping the people of the Hindu Kush Himalayas adapt to emerging challenges and enjoy improved wellbeing in a healthy mountain environment. 

With an eight-country charter, ICIMOD today serves as a regional intergovernmental centre for cooperation on the sustainable development of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. It does so by generating and sharing knowledge to develop solutions to critical mountain issues. Connecting science with policy and practice, ICIMOD provides a platform where policy makers, experts, planners, practitioners, and mountain women and men can exchange ideas and perspectives to foster sustainable mountain development. 

Over the last 30 years, ICIMOD has steadily expanded its areas of interest within the larger framework of its mandate. ICIMOD’s activities have evolved in response to emerging and pressing issues in its eight regional member countries, from its start in rural energy and engineering in fragile environments to its current focus on transdisciplinary regional programmes that facilitate transboundary cooperation on adaptation and livelihood development, the management of ecosystems and water resources, issues related to the cryosphere and atmosphere, and the use of satellite-based data and imagery to improve decision making. The success of landmark programmes, like ICIMOD’s Beekeeping Programme, the Regional Rangelands Programme, and its efforts to monitor the region’s glaciers and glacial lakes, are key illustrations of the impact that ICIMOD has been able to make in the region at different levels. ICIMOD’s promotion of beekeeping has had numerous benefits, including enabling women with an alternative livelihood and improving recognition of the value of indigenous honeybees as pollinators to counter declining agricultural productivity. ICIMOD studies on glacial lakes have informed the initial design of projects in Pakistan and Bhutan to address the risk of a glacial lake outburst flood by increasing understanding and improve long-term planning. ICIMOD has also played an instrumental role in helping countries develop policies for the sustainable development of critical ecosystems, including Nepal’s National Rangeland Policy in 2012. 

The Centre’s 30th Anniversary is being observed throughout the year, and will kick off on 5 December. Several activities have been organized to celebrate the anniversary, including the recently concluded International Conference on Addressing Poverty and Vulnerability. A new book chronicles ICIMOD’s milestones and learning after 30 years of engagement with the men, women, and children of the Hindu Kush Himalayas. In addition, ICIMOD, together with GlacierWorks, the American Embassy, Thinc Design,, Nepal Tourism Board, and Nepal Art Council, will open a unique multimedia science exhibition titled Climate+Change in Kathmandu on International Mountain Day, 11 December. The exhibition, which showcases ICIMOD knowledge together with stunning photography from renowned filmmaker, photographer and mountaineer, David Breashears, will also feature educational tours, interactive features, and a wide range of programming over the next four months.

For more information, please contact: 

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