China, India and Myanmar finalize action plan for the far-eastern Himalayan Landscape Initiative


A four-day regional meeting was held in Kathmandu from 15-18 December 2014 to develop programme design and implementation plan for conservation and development in the far-eastern Himalayas. The event was jointly organized by ICIMOD and focal institutions in three countries namely, Kunming Institute of Botany in China, GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development in India, and the Forest Department of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry in Myanmar. Representatives from relevant government departments, NGOs, scientific research agencies, and academic institutions from the three countries, along with professionals from ICIMOD, attended the meeting. 

The three country partners agreed on a plan for safeguarding the natural environment and improving the lives of the people in the far-eastern Himalayas. Accordingly, the original name of the initiative in the region, i.e., Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, was changed to ‘Landscape Initiative for Far-Eastern Himalayas’ or Hi-LIFE Initiative.

The Hi-LIFE initiative builds on existing bilateral cooperation between the countries, and has matured over the years through the iterative consultative processes. In his inaugural remarks, Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director for Programme Operations at ICIMOD, reflected on the importance of collective planning and an interdisciplinary approach. Prof. Yang Yongping from Kunming Institute of Botany emphasized capitalizing on the rich and unique biodiversity of the landscape, which is its essence or the ‘main harvest’. Dr Naing Zaw Htun from Myanmar’s Forest Department talked about the importance of including local people in conservation planning, because “restriction is not a sustainable solution”. Dr Pitamber P Dhyani from GB Pant Institute of India highlighted the need to link science, practice and policy. 

Over the four days, the participants carved out the programme design and implementation plan based on the Impact Pathway and Theory of Change approach. The Result Chain, Outcome/Impact Logic, Actors mapping, output indicators, and elements of Monitoring and Evaluation Plan were all meticulously discussed.  The process was essential in terms of linking the actions of the Hi-LIFE Initiative to the higher objective of transboundary landscape management, and identifying a broad range of actors for bringing the necessary outcomes and impacts. The country partners also presented their respective Conservation and Development Strategies, and Comprehensive Environmental and Socioeconomic Monitoring Strategies. Country-specific priority actions were then aligned in the activity planning, linking them in the Result Chain for the Initiative. 

The objective of the regional meet was to develop a modest result-oriented implementation plan that could be easily monitored and evaluated. This objective was successfully met as partners carefully identified indicators for different outputs in keeping with the four strategic priorities namely, community livelihoods and climate resilience, ecosystem management and planning, science for decision inputs, and regional cooperation.