Message from the Director General

The year 2015 was a memorable year for many reasons. The earthquakes on 25 April and 12 May that affected Nepal and neighbouring countries also disrupted operations at ICIMOD. However, the way ICIMOD and its partners responded will be something that I will not forget. I was proud that we were able to quickly rebound and deliver a full set of results for 2015. As I go through the pages of this annual report, I am pleased that, despite unexpected challenges, significant progress was made on multiple fronts.

The impact of ICIMOD’s work in 2015 is visible in its ability to work with its member countries to respond to the urgent needs of mountain communities, from investigating a glacial lake outburst flood in Bhutan to quickly responding to the earthquake in Nepal. After the earthquake, ICIMOD drew on its strength as a convenor and its thematic expertise to mobilize an international team of experts to provide support to earthquake response, including mapping secondary geohazards and helping helicopter pilots chart rescue missions. At the same time, we held an international conference on ecotourism in Myanmar as well as a policy dialogue together with the Bangladesh Planning Commission focused on the Chittagong Hill Tracts. 

Over the course of the year ICIMOD hosted a number of other memorable events that brought global attention to important issues in the Hindu Kush Himalayas include international symposiums on glaciology and forestry, and the first meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to be held in Nepal. 

ICIMOD’s regional niche allows us to add special value to mountain development work – working across countries in the region to share knowledge and address shared issues. Our transboundary approach to landscape and river basin management has fostered close interactions and cooperation between countries. We have many activities where we work with communities on adaptation to change. And the positive impacts of these activities are multiplied when knowledge and solutions are shared and further improved, for example an innovative flood early warning system piloted in India but now taken up in Afghanistan and Nepal. 

One of ICIMOD’s core strengths as a knowledge organization is in generating new knowledge and acting as a knowledge broker. We are making concerted efforts with partners to fill critical data gaps, especially those that lead to solutions and support informed decision making. At the UNFCCC meeting in Paris, we launched the Himalayan Water and Climate Atlas, which visually depicts the status of glaciers under changing conditions, and the possible impacts on rivers in several basins in our region. Other science outputs – ranging from new knowledge on glaciers to linkages between migration and community resilience are also featured.

To ensure that important findings and messages from our research are shared, and that knowledge from this region is put to use, we place special focus on communication and knowledge management. For example, the film Dhuwa used the element of comedy to draw public interest to the important issue of open burning and its contribution to growing air pollution across the region. 

Partnership is critical for ICIMOD. We are lucky to work with over 200 partners in the region. From community organizations, to policy makers, to universities, each of our partners helps us advance towards our goal of improving the lives and livelihoods of mountain communities in a healthy mountain environment. In 2015, we have emphasized enhancing the level of engagement with our partners to maximize our success. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many partners and friends of ICIMOD, without whom the work we do would not be possible.