The time is right to apply research findings in the Upper Indus Basin Network and expand into all four riparian countries


The Upper Indus Basin Network (UIB-N), which began in 2010 as a diverse group of researchers in Pakistan conducting important research in the basin, has emerged as a body capable of guiding the creation of similar groups in other riparian countries that share basin waters. On 24–25 April 2018, during a workshop hosted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the UIB-N decided to expand into Afghanistan, India, and China. This is a pivotal point in ICIMOD’s efforts to foster partnerships to strengthen research and knowledge generation in the region. The UIB-N provides a neutral platform for basin countries to share best practices and promote scientific dialogue among government officials and private sector organizations, as well as researchers outside the region. 

During the workshop, UIB-N members revised the network’s core principles to make them more suitable across the transboundary landscape. This resulted in modifications to Technical Working Group guidelines, as well as to the network’s objectives, vision, mission, and governance structure. Participants decided that the UIB-N Strategic Committee would include representatives from all four countries. An ad hoc regional strategic committee formed during the workshop was tasked with proposing the network’s governance framework within a six month interim period.

The UIB-N is a vital resource for researchers to share findings on the effect of climate change in the basin and identify basin and crysopheric resources in the region. The platform encourages discussions on information gaps, potential solutions, and offers scientific, evidence-based advice to national, regional, and global decision makers. Khalid Mohtadullah, the chair of the UIB-N (left), cautioned that knowledge gaps could lead to millions of dollars being lost – for example, through sediment damage to hydropower facilities.

Home to nearly 268 million people, the upper Indus basin contains seven main rivers that irrigate over 16 million hectares of agricultural land. The supply of water in the basin is limited compared to demand, which continues to grow rapidly and strain basin resources, which are also affected by climatic changes. ICIMOD works with partners such as the UIB-N to develop economically- and environmentally-sound mountain ecosystems to improve the living standards of mountain communities and sustain vital services for the billions of people living downstream. 

This workshop was held through the River Basins and Cryosphere regional programme.