Bhutan, India, and Nepal to Strengthen Regional Cooperation through Tourism in the Kangchenjunga Landscape

   TwitCount
Group photograph of some of the delegates with ICIMOD staff 

High level delegates from the governments of Bhutan, India, and Nepal emphasized the need for regional cooperation on strengthening the potential and benefits of tourism in the Kangchenjunga landscape. 

A regional policy dialogue, ‘Shared Natural and Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Tourism in the Kanchenjunga Transboundary Landscape’, was co-organized by the Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) from 1–4 May 2017 in Bhutan, with financial support from the Austrian Development Cooperation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

The event focused on sharing existing practices and improving the potential and future prospects of tourism as a major conservation and development tool for regional cooperation. The development of short, medium, and long-term strategies that focus on nature and culture at the transboundary level has been taken as a way forward for the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI). 

In his inaugural remarks, Lyonpo Yeshy Dorji from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan, highlighted the government’s efforts on conservation and development, and the partnerships developed with KLCDI member countries—Bhutan, India, and Nepal. He said he expected successful implementation for the programme. Dorji also appreciated the efforts put in by ICIMOD and his Ministry, along with other stakeholders, to make KLCDI a great example for transboundary cooperation. 

From left: Bala Ram Kandel, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Amita Prasad, and Eklabya Sharma launch three books at the meeting Photo credit: Ram Prasad Chaudhary

Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, appreciated the process and the progress made by ICIMOD and the three participating countries and suggested that benefits from shared natural and cultural heritages be explored. She also suggested that regional cooperation be strengthened. Prasad emphasized on the need to address human-wildlife conflict and wildlife crime at the regional level and share data and information among the three member countries. While delivering his remarks, Bala Ram Kandel, Under Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal, highlighted the importance of nature- and culture-based tourism in Nepal and its regional potentials. 

Elaborating further on KLCDI, one of six transboundary landscapes identified in the Hindu Kush Himalaya, Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD, said, “Biodiversity is a prerequisite for strengthening resilience and KLCDI aims at developing and testing this approach by implementing conservation and ecosystem management strategies, and enhancing the climate change resilience of communities through corridors and connectivity.” 

Nakul Chettri, Programme Coordinator, KLCDI, emphasized the urgent need for bringing synergy and regional linkage into products, markets, and benefits focusing on responsible tourism. He concluded by stating that regional cooperation is expected to enhance inter-sectoral coordination which addresses regional and transboundary issues. The three participating KLCDI countries discussed existing challenges and opportunities available for regional tourism. A clear cut roadmap with short-, medium-, and long-term action plans has been prepared. The delegates from Bhutan, India and Nepal committed to work on exploring the tourism potential in the landscape as means for fostering sustainable development, working towards enabling policy, products and markets, and strengthening shared natural and cultural heritage. 

Dorji, Prasad, Kandel, and Sharma jointly launched three books—Kangchenjunga Landscape Feasibility Assessment Report and Kangchenjunga Landscape Regional Conservation and Development Strategy and Cooperation Framework, and A Multi-Dimensional Assessment of Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services in Barshong, Bhutan—at the event. During the closing session, Johannes Binder of the Austrian Development Agency emphasized on how tourism can bring opportunities to increase the income of local people while safeguarding nature and the environment.