Indus Basin Conference Builds Understanding of Current Research

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Participants from the conference 
Photo credit: Jitendra Bajracharya

Eighty-plus policy maker and journalist participants from Afghanistan China, India and Pakistan, were present as Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan, Hafeez-ur-Rahman opened the International Conference on Climate and Environmental Change Impacts on the Indus Basin Waters 16 February 2016 at ICIMOD. The event was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) together with the World Bank, and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan addresses at the inaugural session of the international conference
Photo credit: Jitendra Bajracharya 

The impacts of climate change are pronounced in Rahman’s province. 

'The seasonal shift in snowfall to late spring and the subsequent heat waves lasting two to three days have caused rapid melting of snow — preventing glacier formation — flash floods, early avalanches, and loss of life and property’, Rasman said. 

Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director, Programme Operations at ICIMOD emphasised the importance of regional cooperation for meaningful research on impacts of climate change on the Indus waters. 

‘The Indus River supports a population of about 215 million inhabitants of Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly dependent on it’, Sharma said.

Building a better understanding of ongoing research and interventions related to climate change and adaptation in the cryosphere and waters of the Indus Basin was the focus of the conference. Scientists shared results from past and ongoing research while practitioners presented the progress of their respective initiatives and organisations. Topics of discussion included: climate change and variability; cryosphere dynamics; data collection and sharing, hydrological regime, water availability, and demand, climate induced hazards and risks; and adaptation strategies at the local and basin level.

A broader goal of the conference was to combine efforts of individuals  and institutions working in the Indus Basin to generate knowledge, implement packages of practices, and influence policy to serve those living in the basin. The Upper Indus Basin Network, which will focus on reducing knowledge gaps,  will facilitate coordination and cooperation among  partners through through the Indus Forum and the integration of various stakeholders including policy makers. The need to transfer knowledge into practice was evident in the sessions, and while reducing knowledge gaps is very important, it is equally important people and communities benefit from that knowledge.