Upper Indus Basin Network and Indus Forum Collaboration Meeting

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Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

The Upper Indus Basin Network and Indus Forum Collaboration Meeting was held at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 22 to 25 May 2017. A majority of the workshop participants were from Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan, which share the waters of the transboundary Indus River Basin. The participants included senior government officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and representatives from several international organizations. 

The key objective of the joint meeting was to synergize the efforts of institutions and individuals affiliated to the Upper Indus Basin Network (UIB-N) and the Indus Forum (IF) to generate and share knowledge on climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and vulnerability, and adaptation; and to support national governments in developing evidence-based policy to serve inhabitants of the Indus Basin.  

The meeting facilitated the sharing of updates related to the state-of-the-art knowledge generated by UIB-N and IF, and featured discussions on joint proposal development to better understand the impact of climate change and variability on water resources, energy, and agriculture. It explored avenues for the development of adaptation strategies at the local and basin levels. The meeting also discussed the way forward for the Indus Forum Research Proposal and preparations for the upcoming Indus Basin Knowledge Forum to be held from 4 to 6 July 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Group discussions during the meeting 
Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya

Speaking at the meeting, Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General of ICIMOD, said, “The World Bank is a very important partner, but at the heart of our partnership are the countries and people of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, and we would like to see more knowledge sharing and collaboration through both the networks in all four countries that share the Indus Basin.” He went on to say that the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has been an important player in promoting regional partnership, adding that ICIMOD would like to strengthen its partnership with IWMI. Sharma also stated that ICIMOD highly acknowledges the support of the Australian government through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP). “ICIMOD is honored to play the role of facilitator for UIB-N to promote active partnership among the network members,” he said.

Head of IWMI, India, Alok Sikka, said that the meeting was a good platform to further increase knowledge on UIB. “This kind of workshop will synergize our work and efforts across the four countries to forge better partnerships,” he said. “We are very happy to see participants from all basin-sharing countries.” 

Mir Ahmad Ahmad, Operations Officer at the World Bank, stressed the importance of increasing the potential for sustainable management of Indus resources. He said that collaborative platforms like the UIB/IF meeting are key to understanding existing and future challenges due to climate change, and identifying holistic practice, common methodologies and protocols to address challenges in the basin.

During the meeting, David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, and Ghulam Rasul from the Pakistan Metrological Department both welcomed new members of UIB-N. They said that UIB-N is expanding into four countries and will hence have more diverse groups. They also said that better results are expected as a result of the regional collaboration through UIB-N.

The workshop witnessed active participation from academicians, researchers, policy makers, development practitioners, and scientists—all of them with expertise, experience, and good knowledge on the Indus River Basin. The participants said that the event created a good platform for them to work towards fostering collaboration between UIB-N and IF. They expressed hope that through collaboration, knowledge sharing and policy engagement would provide valuable contributions to the governments and communities of the Indus Basin.