Roundtable on Leadership Network at the Transboundary and Regional scale for a Resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya

Target Audience: This event is targeted at regional communities of leaders from multiple natural resource management sectors, drawing upon a constituency of practitioners, scientists, and policymakers.

Background: The Transboundary Landscapes Programme

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), with cooperation with participating countries, has been implementing four transboundary landscape initiatives in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) since 2012. Kangchenjunga, the Far Eastern Himalaya, the Kailash Sacred Landscape, and the Hindu Kush Karakoram Pamir are each party to mutually agreed upon conservation and development interventions which are implemented at a transboundary scale. Shared goals and outcomes, principles of collaboration, and transparent and coherent regional cooperation frameworks guide these initiatives.

Conceptual and implementation processes have been guided by targeted scientific and development frameworks to build leadership across ICIMOD regional member countries. They not only own the concept but also acts as catalysts to out scale and facilitate the uptake of learning in the policy and practice domains. Although the groundwork for transboundary cooperation is laid through the four initiatives, these operate are at relatively low levels of the mutually agreed upon intervention areas of conservation and development.

Different variables correlate with cooperation but, unsurprisingly, the most important ones are distinctly ground-level human and institutional variables relating to existing transborder relationships. Hence, the sustainability of conservation and development outputs and outcomes at the transboundary scale depends on the inclusion of all stakeholders and the development of a supportive constituency across science-policy-practice. While international organizations and their funding play crucial roles in raising awareness, equipping, and facilitating transboundary cooperation pilots, they cannot mainstream it. International contributions are instrumental, but sustained success depends on day-to-day involvement and the efforts of those who are living the concept and can be catalysts when it comes to building leadership at scale to make regional cooperation happen. 

Building leadership across the domains of policy, science, and practice can promote innovation, support empowerment, and advocate transboundary conservation and development.

Mountain Knowledge and Action Network

ICIMOD has proposed the Regional Programme on Mountain Knowledge Action Network in its Medium Term Action Plan IV (2018–22). The key outcome of the programme reads, “Enhanced capacity and collaboration among universities, research alliances, policy makers, and youth for sustainable development in the HKH and adjoining regions.” 

One of the outcome indicators relates to “Number of instances where young women and men acquire new skills, entrepreneurship, and leadership for promoting sustainable mountain development” and another relates to “An effective regional platform that uses science-policy dialogues for regional cooperation”.

Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead)

Lead is an international initiative for developing a new generation of outstanding leaders from across the sectors covering the science, policy, and practice domain. Lead has grown into an international network of professionals known as ‘Lead Fellows’ committed to environmentally sustainable, social equitable and economically viable development.

Established in 1991 as an outcome of the Rio Summit, today Lead has its presence in 40 countries. Over the last 20 years, it has been investing in youth and mid carrier professional to hone and sharpen the leadership skills for a sustainable world. It has witnessed and learned how individuals are able to challenge conventional ways of creating, learning, and being, to become major catalysts for change, crossing traditional organizational and industry boundaries.

Within the HKH, Lead had full-fledged country chapters in three countries—India, Pakistan, and China. Lead fellows are present in as many as five HKH countries, many of whom are working on the issue of resilient mountains representing multiple sectors as well as the policy, science, and practice community.

Lead HKH

Discussions were held on the sideline of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit at Aizawl in Mizoram, India with a team from ICIMOD and the Lead India team. The need to build on the strengths of Lead Fellows and the Lead programme in the HKH was discussed. The aim is to foster a regional leadership network representing science, policy and practice constituencies across multiple sectors.

Expected contribution to the main conference

The background provides rationale for building a regional network of leaders for resilient mountains. In the overall context of the ResilientHKH workshop, a roundtable discussion is being proposed.

Session outcome 

It is expected that the roundtable session will help: 

  • To reach broad agreement on a regional (HKH) network of leaders to support a resilient HKH by building on the strength of Lead fellows and the Lead programme as well as ICIMOD programme partners.
  • To define institutional platforms that support the network and the key mandate of the network as well as its broad strategy.
  • Link this network with ICIMOD Regional Programmes, particularly River Basins, Transboundary Landscapes, and Mountain Knowledge and Action Networks.

Themes/questions for discussion:

Transboundary Landscapes: with reference to entrepreneurship and skill leadership in sustainable tourism in the HKH 

  • What are the unique selling points of the concept?
  • What have been the lessons learnt so far?
  • What are the key issues and opportunities related to mobilizing leadership for upscaling and outscaling?

From pilot to scale 

  • What scope do existing regional capacity-building institutions have in terms of building leadership around key thematic areas such as sustainable tourism (lessons from pilot projects of existing transboundary initiatives)?
  • Which participatory tools and techniques (e.g., Landscape Journey, Landscape Governance) could be the entry points? 
  • How can we mainstream the concept of leadership for regional cooperation in the HKH?

Questions will be framed to discuss the strengths of lead country chapters/fellows networks, ICIMOD and programme partner networks in HKH member countries. The core discussion will involve questions regarding the setting up of a regional network of leaders for a resilient HKH, beginning with a leadership network for sustainable mountain tourism.