e-discussion on Sustainable Mountain Development in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region


From Rio 1992 to Rio+20, 2012 and beyond

Where do we stand – How can we make a difference and promote sustainable mountain development agenda? 

A preliminary brainstorming session for preparing the Hindu Kush-Himalayan status report on challenges and opportunities faced by the region


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, 1992 put mountains on the global environment and development map by introducing a specific chapter of the Agenda 21 on mountains as fragile ecosystems (Chapter 13). Twenty years later, Rio+20 provides an excellent opportunity to present a global status report on achievements, challenges, and future opportunities in sustainable mountain development (SMD) that can show where we stand today and indicate where we need to move forward in future.

ICIMOD, as a member of the global Mountain Partnership Consortium (MPC), has been assigned the task of preparing a Regional Assessment Report on SMD in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region with the following objectives:
  • To take stock of what has, and what has not, been achieved in promoting sustainable mountain development since 1992 in different parts of the region 
  • To learn what has worked and what has not -- and why
  • To identify current and future challenges and to explore pathways and opportunities on how these can be addressed in the context of the HKH mountains
  • To identify the role of different stakeholders and to propose a ’plan of work’ towards the preparation of a draft regional report by September 2011  
The status report will be ready for global presentation and distribution on the occasion of the Rio 2012 conference. Prior to this key event, an International Conference will be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on 10-12 October 2011. The conference will provide a platform to present and discuss preliminary findings and to extract the key messages for policy makers involved in the Rio+20 negotiations. 

"Given the very different characteristics of the world's diverse mountain regions, even on one continent, it is probably best not to propose a precise definition of sustainable mountain development, but to recognize that it is a regionally-specific process of sustainable development that concerns both mountain regions and populations living downstream or otherwise dependent on these regions in various ways" (Price and Kim 1999)

Target audience of the Report

The central target audience for the HKH region Rio 20 Assessment report are policy and decision makers at the international and national level, including multilateral and bilateral development agencies, national governments, private sector, and local and regional administrations. The report is further meant to address least developed mountain countries, regions and their civil society organisations including international and national NGOs and foundations; private as well as public sector enterprises, including transnational corporations; academic institutions; scientists; and researcher, scholars and academia.

ICIMOD’s Commitment

The key motivation for ICIMOD working closely with other members of the MPC, especially, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is to contribute to a global status report for Rio 20 and share the findings at an international conference to be organised by SDC in 2011 in collaboration with partners worldwide, including ICIMOD. ICIMOD’s involvement is based on its long-term commitment and mandate to promote the SMD agenda, especially in the HKH region. ICIMOD has been providing support and has gathered experience on SMD within the HKH region over the last 27 years. ICIMOD, working closely with the its member countries and MPC, wants to contribute to the advancement and improvement of the living conditions of the HKH mountain populations and to the sustainable conservation and promotion of mountain ecological and socio-cultural systems that are the basis for important landscapes that benefit the entire region and beyond. 

Discussion Questions

Pre-discussion: A short overview (with spatial/quantitative/trend data where possible)

Week 1: Understanding different mountain systems and their contribution to providing goods and services
  • What are the key characteristics of the mountain systems of the HKH region?
  • What are the roles and contributions of mountains in providing goods and (especially ecosystem) services to the wider surrounding region of the HKH?
Week 2: Issues, challenges and opportunities
  • What are the key issues/opportunities/challenges in SMD, and how do these derive from these driving forces?
  • What have been/are the major internal and external driving forces of change in the mountain environment, economy, and social systems?
Week 3: How Mountain systems can provide strategic way forward for the Rio+20 Agenda?’
  • What factors are currently impeding/promoting the shift towards a green economy, climate resilient development, and/or sustainable development in the mountain region?
  • What institutional/governance/environmental, socioeconomic and global/ regional/national factors are impeding/contributing to sustainable mountain development (SMD)?
ICIMOD would like to kick-start the preparaiton of the regional assessement by first identifying the key gaps, issues, opportunities, and challenges, and key mandated, qualified, committed, interested, and potentially interested people from government organisations (GOs), non-governemnet organisations (NGOs), academia, foundations, development partners, nature trusts, and the private sector through this electronic discussion.

E-discussion Team

Overall Coordinator
Dr Madhav Karki
Deputy Director General, ICIMOD

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Ecological  Society, New Delhi

E-discussion Administrator
Mr Tek Jung Mahat
APMN Node Manager, ICIMOD