ICIMOD’s Eklabya Sharma delivers Sikkim University Foundation Day Lecture

   TwitCount

On the occasion of the 11th Anniversary of Sikkim University, Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), was invited to deliver the Foundation Day lecture. Titled Climate+ Change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: Developing solutions to complex challenges at the intersection of environment and development, the lecture walked listeners through a host of issues unique and characteristic to the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). The lecture was delivered on 20 July 2018 in Gangtok, Sikkim, India. 

Sharma started off by highlighting the significance and importance of the HKH as an important “water tower” and major food production area that supports close to a fourth of the world’s population. He then spoke of the many challenges that still persist in this region of rich natural and cultural diversity. Poverty, energy and food insecurity, and lack of disaster preparedness are major hurdles that the region is yet to overcome. Climate change has thrown up new risks and challenges for sustainable development in the HKH.

By sharing relevant data from the HKH on increasing temperature trends, glacier area loss, and changing precipitation patterns, Sharma explained how these factors are likely to affect the daily lives of people in the region, both upstream and downstream. There are, however, great efforts being made to counter, build resilience and adapt to changing environmental conditions. The use of community-based flood early warning systems, development of resilient mountain villages, and the adoption of improved brick kiln technology in the region, were cited as examples of concrete achievements made so far. 

Sharma also emphasized the transboundary nature of these challenges in the HKH region. It is therefore important to adopt a holistic regional approach to understanding the issues as well as coming up with solutions. Hence, rather than thinking in terms of individual countries, Sharma highlighted the need to take a landscapes and river basins approach to better identify and address problems in the HKH. 

Sharma concluded his lecture by briefly talking about ICIMOD’s Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), of which Sikkim University is also a member. He reiterated that the HUC platform offers a good base from which to share knowledge and discuss issues pertaining to the HKH collectively. Lastly, Sharma acknowledged Sikkim University as an important partner for ICIMOD and congratulated them on their special occasion.