International Conference on Mountain People Adapting to Change completed

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ICIMOD, in partnership with the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment, held its 2014 flagship conference ‘Mountain People Adapting to Change: Solutions Beyond Boundaries Bridging Science, Policy, and Practice’ from 9-12 November in Kathmandu, Nepal. The event brought together over 300 climate scientists, adaptation policy makers, and practitioners with the goal of finding more holistic approaches to adaptation that can bridge the gaps between professional viewpoints and go beyond political, sectoral, and national boundaries.

The event, attended by speakers and delegates representing more than 23 countries, featured 19 panel sessions designed to maximize participatory discussion through use of innovative formats such as dialogue cafés and interactive panels. The inauguration and opening high-level leadership panel on 9 November included policymakers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as a video statement from the UNFCCC

Each of the next three days was devoted to one aspect of adaptation strategy. Sessions on 10 November revolved around a range of issues in adaptation science. ICIMOD also launched the Regional Database System (RDS), an open-access web-based portal that will be a central data repository for the HKH region. The third day of the conference centered on adaptation policy. A number of organizations displayed their innovative work on adaptation in the region, and  young professionals made poster presentations. The final day of the conference focused on adaptation practice. In the closing session, the high-level panel discussion focused on how mountain issues can be placed on the global agenda. Panelists and participants reflected on the central themes of the conference, and voiced their personal or organizational commitment to promote action on climate change adaptation in the region. 

The key points to emerge from the conference were:

  • Mountains areas provide 40% of global goods and services but do not receive commensurate attention from decision makers. Therefore, we need to generate a unified mountain voice through regional and global cooperation without losing sight of local needs. 
  • There is a data gap in the HKH region, but not a knowledge gap. The delegates agreed to support experts from the Himalayan region in their efforts to intervene in the global discourse so that the wealth of knowledge available in the region gets represented globally. 
  • It is essential to create and support mechanisms for collective reflection and learning among diverse stakeholders, particularly between scientists and policy makers, to ensure that scientific knowledge guides policy. 
  • Improved efforts are needed to support local-level adaptation with technology, capacity building, and financial resources.
  • Greater collaboration with the media and civil society to facilitate better communication of science must be made a priority. 

The conference received significant media coverage both during and after the event; links to related stories are available on the conference website (http://www.icimod.org/?q=15516) . The major themes and messages from the conference fed into the UNFCCC meetings in Lima, Peru in December 2014 and will also be taken to the 2015 discussions in Paris, France.