With the signing of the new Charter in Kathmandu recently, the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) has now turned the page to a new and more promising chapter of its life. HUC brings us new hope that we will be able to shift the momentum of change and seek transformations in the area of sustainable mountain development.
The Consortium was founded to build a dynamic mountain knowledge partnership among the universities of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region and other organisations and institutions, both within and outside the region, and to be a beacon of new knowledge on mountains. Today, HUC has 33 universities as full members from the HKH region and ten associate members. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) currently hosts the HUC Secretariat.
At a recent HUC Summit, we brought together vice chancellors, rectors, presidents, directors, heads of the existing and potential HUC member universities and institutions to discuss collaborative research, knowledge generation and sharing, education and capacity building on mountains issues. And this was good, not because we were able to sign the charter, but because the participants brought with them diverse ideas and opinions as to how we could shape the consortium into a torchbearer for issues related to sustainable mountain development. Furthermore, HUC provides an ideal platform to enhance collaboration among HKH academic and research institutions and to promote centres of excellence.
My own vision is that the consortium will actively engage our youth and unleash their energy to tackle this mountain of mountain issues. Our universities and training systems have the key, but there is a need to focus on mountain issues, and the new and unique challenges of today. The summit brought together academicians and professionals from all over the Hindu Kush Himalayas and beyond to focus on how universities can best respond to the array of challenges that sustainable mountain development poses.
The HUC will produce a new generation of scholar leaders to carry out research and development on mountains issues, who will implement solutions, who will help develop mountain-specific curricula for our universities and schools, and who will ultimately be the leaders to bring about needed change. We hope teachers and students will generate a mass of new knowledge, research, and solutions about mountains. Moreover, we hope to form bonds between students and professors across countries that will last for years.
The Charter that was signed at the HUC Summit formalises our collaboration, and also underpins the roles and responsibilities for the HUC members, and will bring new possibilities for local and regional university leaders to improve ways to cooperate for the future of the Himalayan region. And, as HUC moves ahead, I am sure we will see new partnerships of universities to strengthen our support for mountain people and mountain environments.
ICIMOD will continue to play the role of a facilitator to bring people together. However, the ownership of HUC resides with the members, with ICIMOD as a partner. We would like to give it an initial push, and our vision is to see the HUC fly high.