Incentivizing Mountain Communities for Ecosystem Services in the Context of a Changing Climate

Dr David Molden giving remarks during inaugural session

The International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment, and Impacts on Livelihood was organized in Kathmandu from 10-12 January 2017. The three-day event brought together 300 national and 100 international scientists, policy makers, and development workers to facilitate the integration of science, technology, policy, and action. The conference focused on exploring ways in which approaches from the natural and social sciences might be used to support economic development, particularly in developing countries which face serious climate hazards, biological invasion, biodiversity loss, agriculture, and water stress.

The President of Nepal, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, inaugurated the conference. She spoke about the importance of nature conservation in combating the negative impacts of global climate change. She highlighted the importance of transboundary cooperation saying, “Nature conservation should extend beyond national borders. Transboundary cooperation is necessary for conservation.’’ 

David Molden, Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), shared the dais with President Bhandari.  Molden said he was grateful to be part of the conference, and highlighted the importance of mountain regions, particularly the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). Underscoring the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services, Molden referred to the HKH as repository of biodiversity – with 488+ protected areas, 330 important bird areas, 33 Ramsar sites, and 1000+ languages. He spoke of challenges related to various drivers of change, including climate change, and underlined the existing and potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Panelists in the symposium

As part of the conference, ICIMOD, together with its partners, hosted a symposium, Incentivizing Mountain Communities for Ecosystem Services in the Context of a Changing Climate, on 11 January 2017. Eminent experts in the fields of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation from Bhutan, China, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, were part of the event. More than 200 delegates from 25 countries representing diverse sectors, institutions, and agencies working in the HKH on ecosystem services, climate change, sustainable development, poverty, human health and wellbeing, food and security, development, and economy participated.

The symposium featured one keynote speech, and six presentations. The discussions focused on incentivizing mountain communities, particularly in the HKH, for their contributions to securing ecosystem services. SP Singh, a renowned educationist, ecologist and former Advisor to the State Planning Commission, Government of Uttarakhand, Dehradun, and former Vice-Chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Uttaranchal, delivered the keynote speech. Krishna Chandra Poudel, Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal, presided as chair of the event.

On the final day of the conference, Eklabya Sharma, Director Programme Operations, ICIMOD, shared the dais with Dhani Ram Paudel, Minister of Education, Government of Nepal, during the closing session. Sharma acknowledged the organizers for giving biodiversity, climate change assessment and livelihood due consideration at the event, and recognizing how a nexus of drivers and impacts affect biodiversity and human wellbeing. He thanked the organizers for allowing ICIMOD the opportunity to not just participate in the conference but also support a special symposium as part of the event. Sharma highlighted the significance of Himalayan biodiversity and ecosystem services, and spoke about the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP), initiated by ICIMOD for generating baseline and developing mechanisms for periodic assessment, and monitoring of HKH ecosystems, economic development and environment. He also highlighted the role of the Himalayan University Consortium, facilitated by ICIMOD, where Tribhuvan University, the main organizer, is a major stakeholder. He concluded his closing remarks saying the conference has proved a great platform for experts, amateurs, and young mind from various academic institutions to get together to share knowledge.