Strengthening Exchange and Collaboration between the Arctic and the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH)

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Session Facilitator: Philippus Wester, Coordinator Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) and Chief Scientist Water Resources Management, ICIMOD

Welcoming Remarks: Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary to the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Climate Change

Keynote Speech 1: The Hindu-Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP): Similarities Between the Arctic and HKH Regions 
David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD (15 min)/Questions/Discussion (5 min)

Keynote Speech 2: The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) and the Arctic Council: The Role of Arctic Science in Policy Processes 
Speaker TBD (15 min)/Questions/Discussion (5 min)

Knowledge Café (2x20 min)

The knowledge café will provide opportunities for participants and table hosts to engage in dialogue and the co-creation of actions and recommendations for sustainable futures in the Arctic and Hindu Kush Himalaya. Two sessions of 20 minutes each will be held, at which participants can choose from the following tables:

Table 1: Enhancing regional collaboration through science: lessons from the Arctic and the HKH

Table 2: Assessments and science-policy interfaces in the Arctic and HKH

Table 3: Mountain and Arctic communities: the importance of yak and reindeer

Panel Discussion and Conclusions (30 min)

Table hosts and keynote speakers will take part in the panel, reporting back on the knowledge café discussions and ways forward. 

Closing Remarks: Philippus Wester

Background

The Arctic and HKH regions are both climate change hotspots facing similar challenges related to high latitude/high altitude ecosystems, including air pollution, cryospheric change, natural resource degradation, and increasingly difficult lives of mountain communities and indigenous peoples. In both regions, there is a strong need for sustainable development and environmental protection that requires successful collaboration between the regional countries. 

To address these issues, both regions have established regional collaboration institutions. In the Arctic, this work is conducted through the Arctic Council, which serves as a high-level intergovernmental forum to address issues facing the countries and indigenous peoples of the Arctic. In the HKH, ICIMOD, also an intergovernmental organization, serves the countries and mountain people of the region as a knowledge development and learning centre. 

While located far away from each other, the Arctic and HKH have many similar opportunities and challenges and great potential to learn from each other, being located at the highest latitudes and highest altitudes on the globe. The Arctic enjoys greater political and economic support from its member countries and researchers, resulting in various issue-based working groups, and scientific collaboration and exchange. The HKH, on the other hand, seeks to fill large data gaps and deficiencies in trust and institutional capacities among its member countries. Notwithstanding these issues, there is significant interest from researchers and professionals in the HKH to work together on common issues for sustainable mountain development. 

The regions have much in common: each region has eight member countries encompassing an environmental asset of global importance; as well as the following commonalities: 

  • Significant ice, snow, and permafrost areas (cryosphere) under threat from climate change. 
  • Indigenous societies and communities, with rich traditional knowledge about their environments and livelihoods.
  • Common biophysical resources shared among neighboring countries. 
  • Profound climate change impacts that are expected to increase in the future. 
  • Other important connections such as bird migrations, the atmospheric transport of pollutants, black carbon, and emerging climate teleconnections.

Inspired by the success of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), one of the working groups of the Arctic Council, ICIMOD is currently coordinating the Comprehensive Assessment of the HKH Region, conducted as part of the larger Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP). HIMAP brings together hundreds of scientists and policy experts to create an evidence-based, comprehensive assessment, which will greatly assist in addressing threats, acting on opportunities, and scaling cutting edge approaches.