Upper Indus Basin (UIB) Network and Indus Forum (IF) Collaboration Meeting

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Background 

The transboundary Indus River Basin, shared by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, is ranked among the world’s most significant basins in terms of human dependency on its water resources and agricultural livelihoods. Home to nearly 215 million people, the basin has six main rivers originating from glaciers in the Western Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush, which are sources of irrigation for over 16 million hectares of agricultural land. This leads to a very high population density in the basin and an approximate water availability of 1,329 m3 per capita. In total, the Indus River Basin is estimated to have a total hydropower potential of 55,000 MW, out of which approximately 35,700 MW are technically feasible. At present, only 6,444 MW, about 12% of the potential, are harnessed. The socioeconomic development of the countries sharing the basin therefore largely depends on the optimal utilization and prudent management of the precious water resources of the Indus River Basin.

The basin is already water scarce, yet the demand for water continues to grow rapidly putting further stress on resource owing to rapidly changing demographics and climatic conditions. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problem. While there are more economic activities in the lower part of the basin, climate is likely the driver of change in the upper high mountain affecting upstream and downstream populations.

The Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN) is an informal knowledge and research network of national and international researchers working in the upper part of the Indus Basin. Its mission is to foster coordination research in climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and vulnerability, and adaptation related issues. The Indus Forum (IF) serves as the coordinating initiative to identify strategic opportunities for collaborative action to achieve on-the-ground results. It does so by influencing the thinking and decision of national governments in the sphere of water resources management and transboundary cooperation.

In the current scenario, researchers are not fully aware of each other’s work and decision-makers are disconnected from what is happening in the scientific community. In this context, the IF is a convener of Indus Basin knowledge, where it can bring together the UIBN and other initiatives for interactions between researchers, policymakers, stakeholders, and the media; and is a platform that coordinates and integrates all projects, programmes, and research, including the UIBN.

Objective

The major objective of the joint meeting is to synergize the efforts of institutions and individuals affiliated to UIBN and IF to generate and share knowledge on climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and vulnerability, and adaptation; and support national governments in developing evidence-based policy to serve inhabitants of the Indus Basin.  The meeting will update the state-of-the-art knowledge generated by UIBN and IF and discuss joint proposal development to better understand the impact of climate change and variability on water resources, energy, and agriculture; and to develop adaptation strategies at the local and basin levels. The meeting will also discuss the way forward for the research proposal and discuss the Indus Knowledge Forum planned for 4–6 July 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.