Opportunities and Challenges in Conserving Biodiversity in Transboundary Landscapes for Sustainable Development in Hindu Kush Himalayas

08 Oct 2014


18:15 - 19:45


Hall G, Room 1, Marie Khan Women’s Caucus Room 

Contact Persons: 





Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services, Water and Air, Transboundary Landscapes, Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape, Kailash Sacred Landscape, Kangchenjunga Landscape, Karakoram-Pamir Landscape

Millions of people in the fragile landscape of the
Hindu Kush Himalayas
depend on the ecosystems for their livelihoods. Ensuring their access to food, water and energy while addressing global and national conservation agenda is an enormous challenge. To address this challenge, we must place conservation and resource management within the broader framework of ecosystems services rather than limiting them to political boundaries, because ecological regions do not follow political boundaries. The ecosystem management approach is thus integral to managing large landscapes. 

With this in view, ICIMOD and its member countries developed a ‘Framework for Landscape Approach’ for the seven identified transboundary landscapes in the HKH region (ICIMOD, 2012). One of these initiatives is the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, or KSLCDI (2012-2017), which is jointly implemented by China, India and Nepal. It is a unique programme that explicitly acknowledges the importance of environment services for local ecosystems and communities. This flagship initiative was conceived through an intensive consultative and iterative process, which culminated in the endorsement of a regional cooperation framework by the three countries. The framework sets out the vision, goal, objectives, processes, principles, and mechanisms for transboundary ecosystem management of the landscape. It spells out how the three countries will promote regional cooperation in the KSL for the conservation and sustainable use of ecological and cultural resources and associated forms of traditional knowledge. This entails the collection, analysis, validation, exchange, and dissemination of information on the environment, ecology, climate, and biodiversity of the landscape.

The implementation process of KSLCDI and preparatory process of other key transboundary landscapes (e.g. Karakoram-Pamir, Kangchenjunga, and Brahmaputra-Salween) have generated lessons about how we might strike a balance between conservation and development to achieve a ‘win-win’ situation for both the environment and communities that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. It has been realized that efforts to mainstream the CBD agenda at the grassroots level would need to take into account existing institutional complexity, the mismatch between conservation and development activities, and the limited capacity to achieve CBD related targets/impacts. Similarly, human-wildlife conflicts resulting from habitat fragmentation and multiple stakeholder demands have reached a point where biodiversity conservation is forced to compete with the survival of species and welfare of communities. Several high-value species are spread and used on a transboundary scale, bringing a number of complex issues such as sustainable harvesting, forest and rangeland governance, and competing markets to the fore. The balance between resource use dynamics and conservation is increasingly being put to the test at the local level. Transboundary conservation and development initiatives are hence expected to address paradigmatic issues of adaptation, sustainability of local livelihoods, management of ecosystems and the human-environment interface to ensure a continued flow of biological and natural services.