A decadal journey of transboundary conservation and development initiatives: Lessons learnt from the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Side event at the regional conference on Himalaya matters in a changing world (9-11 December, 2019)

   TwitCount

Background

ICIMOD has been proactively working on biodiversity conservation in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region for the last three decades. The region merits conservation interventions because it houses four of 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots, two of its member countries (China and India) are Megadiverse Countries, and it hosts numerous Global 200 ecoregions. The HKH is also known as the “water tower of Asia” and the Third Pole because it stores the highest volume of ice outside the two poles, feeding 10 major river systems and 1.9 billion people downstream. 

The HKH region directly provides water, ecosystem services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 240 million people. The rich cultures, traditions, and livelihood practices here are driven by an interdependency on ecosystem services derived from rich biodiversity and ecosystem services. Given the region’s vast geographical extent and variety of altitudinal gradient, there are significant differences in climate, leading to the formation of many micro-climatic zones within the different altitudinal ranges. These variations have made the HKH equally important in terms of biodiversity with diverse ecosystems – the habitat for some of the most charismatic species. However, this important region is facing mounting challenges from a wide range of drivers of change, including climate change. 

Considering the contiguous and shared ecosystems with interdependencies for ecosystem services, shared habitats of many charismatic and threatened species, and the common challenges of global drivers of change, ICIMOD with support from its partners and global experts conceptualized four Trans-Himalaya Transects and six Transboundary Landscapes in 2008 (Kailash, Kangchenjunga, Far-Eastern Himalaya, Hindu Kush Karakoram Pamir, Everest, and Cherrapunjee-Chittagong). The ecosystem approach advocated by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) guided this conceptualization. Since then, the first 4 of the 6 identified landscapes have undergone different phases of planning and implementation. The Transboundary Landscapes programme has earned global attention for its importance to biodiversity conservation and sustainable and equitable development in the region. 

This side event at the regional conference on “Himalaya matters in a changing world” is aimed at sharing the rich experiences and challenges faced and tackled by the programme with peers and practitioners, allowing cross-learning on transboundary biodiversity conservation and development initiatives.

Objectives

  • Share experiences and challenges related to the process of developing a transboundary landscape programme 

  • Understand the uniqueness and opportunities for each of the landscape initiatives

  • Explore potential areas for improvements in the landscape initiatives: Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL), Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL), Hindu Kush Karakoram Pamir Landscape (HKPL), and Landscape Initiative in Far Eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE)

  • Prepare a road map and way forward for achieving common goals 

Expected outcomes

  • Develop a draft proceedings on the status of each of the four transboundary initiatives

  • Identify the gaps and potential areas of improvement and consideration, with special reference to the KL, KSL, HKPL, and HI-LIFE

  • Develop and agree on a roadmap with action points to take the process forward