Upper Indus Basin Experts’ Field Visit

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ICIMOD, in collaboration with its partner organizations – the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority, WWF-Gilgit Baltistan, and the Government of Gilgit Baltistan – organized the Upper Indus Basin Experts’ Field Visit to Gilgit Baltistan from 15 to 24 April 2014. The field visit was attended by 45 national and international experts. The objectives of the field visit were to strengthen collaboration between various actors working in the Upper Indus Basin; develop a better understanding of the impact of climate change on the environment in Gilgit Baltistan; and explore options to minimize the adverse impacts of climate and other changes in the basin. Above all, the purpose of the field visit was to obtain a first-hand impression of the ground reality in the Upper Indus Basin towards developing a joint research framework for the basin based on scientific knowledge. From ICIMOD, Dr David Molden, Dr Arun Shrestha, Dr Philippus Wester, Dr Abdul Wahid Jasra, Mr Ghulam Muhammad Shah, Mr Madhav Dhakal, and Ms Kanwal Waqar participated in the field visit.

Consultation meeting with the Government of Gilgit Baltistan on 16 April 2014

Photo: ICIMOD


The visit commenced with a one-day consultation meeting with the Government of Gilgit Baltistan on 16 April 2014 at Gilgit. Mr Iftikhar Ahmad Rao, Additional Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research; Mr Khalid Mohtadullah, Senior Advisor, ICIMOD; Dr David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD; Mr Arif Mahmood, Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department; Mr Khadim Hussain Saleem, Secretary, Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department, Gilgit Baltistan; and Mr Agostiono Da Polenza, President, EvK2CNR were key speakers at the consultation meeting. The consultation meeting was attended by about 80 officials from various provincial departments, who were appraised of the objectives of the field visit. 

With the participants from Sost community

Photo: ICIMOD


The field visit went to Bagrot valley, Ghulkin and Passu glaciers, Khunjarab National Park, and Hooper and Minapin glaciers. Participants also visited the Water and Power Development Authority and Pakistan Meteorological Department installations and interacted with local communities to gain insight into climate and glacier dynamics in relation to the vulnerability of the local resource base and livelihoods and existing adaptations of local people. The participants were also treated to cultural performances by the local communities of Ghulmit, Ghulkin, Passu, Khunjrab, Hoper and Minapin – gestures of their excellent hospitality.

Discussing glacier dynamics at Passu Ghar in Upper Indus Basin 

Photo: ICIMOD


The experts’ team identified various issues and options in the basin related to hazards, energy, and livelihoods. The team found that there is a need to increase environmental monitoring in the area to enhance our understanding of the cryosphere dynamics, particularly the Karakorum anomaly and the linkage with local and downstream water availability. The team realized the importance of integrating science with local knowledge for the benefit of people and of building the capacity of youth and local institutions for research in the basin; there is a huge potential to engage communities in the basin in research and development as the people of the region have a high level of awareness and education.

Federal Minister, Mr Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, and Additional Secretary, Mr Malik Zahoor Ahmad, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, during the debriefing to the federal Government of Pakistan 

Photo: ICIMOD

During the field visit, the existing Upper Indus Basin working group was expanded to an Upper Indus Basin network of six working groups. Leaders of the working groups will select people from relevant organizations to be members of the six working groups and elaborate their tasks and outputs. ICIMOD will act as the secretariat of the Upper Indus Basin network. It was also decided that a steering meeting for the network will be organized at least annually – the next meeting is slated for November 2014 in Islamabad.

The field visit concluded with debriefing sessions with the provincial and federal governments on 23 and 24 April 2014 at Gilgit and Islamabad, respectively. Mr Muhammad Younis Dagha, Chief Secretary, Gilgit Baltistan, and Mr Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Federal Minister, Ministry of National Food Security and Research were the chief guests at these sessions. In the sessions, Dr Molden, Mr Mohtadullah, and Mr Arif Mahmood made presentations on the need for an enhanced understanding of the Upper Indus Basin in both the local and national contexts and suggested a way forward.