Indian ministers call for stronger partnerships within Himalayan countries for adaptation to climate change

02 Oct 2011


New Delhi

Inaugurating the one-day workshop on ‘Challenges in Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation – Potential for collaboration between ICIMOD and India’, held at The Habitat Centre, New Delhi on the occasion of the first India-ICIMOD Day, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, Honourable Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, and Shrimati Jayanti Natarajan, Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, Government of India, called for a strong regional cooperation among different Himalayan countries and a simultaneous strengthening of partnerships between different ministries within the country in order to meet the challenges of climate change.

In his welcome address, Dr Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD – the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development – expressed his pleasure and satisfaction in co-organising the first India-ICIMOD Day in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development. The hosting of the event by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, he observed, suggested the relevance and confidence assigned to the ongoing partnership by the Government of India. The presence of the two ministers on the occasion further pointed to the significance assigned to the India-ICIMOD partnership and the recognition of the need to broaden efforts in partnership building. 

As an intergovernmental, regional organisation, ICIMOD serves as a regional knowledge hub working for the development of mountain people. Dr Schild emphasised that to be relevant and effective, ICIMOD can achieve its mandate only by creating an effective platform for implementing regional programmes through strong partnerships and active collaboration of national partners working in member countries. The India-ICIMOD Day was an important step in strengthening partnership to achieve the common goal of addressing development of mountain people of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas in general and the Indian Himalayas in particular. 

In the context of climate change adaptation, the Himalayan Region has relevance not only for the people residing within the region, but also for the millions residing downstream as well as the global community. Dr Schild drew the attention of the participants to three areas of strategic importance that the partnership should focus upon: 

  • the potential that mountains have to contribute to the green economy, which is currently the focus of much global attention;
  • adaptation to climate change, with a focus on the resilience of mountain communities, the management of mountain resources, and the implications and opportunities for downstream populations;
  • research on the cryosphere, which not only has a vital role in regulating water resources, but also reflects atmospheric change and can be an effective indicator of global climatic change. 

In her inaugural address, the Honourable Shrimati Jayanti Natarajan pointed out that climate change impacts do not respect national boundaries and hence, any efforts to address climate change issues have to transcend boundaries and be regional in approach. She pointed out that the Himalayas are the most fragile mountain system, given the geological vulnerability, the growing population pressure, and the consequential pressure on Himalayan resources. She drew attention to the rich traditional knowledge and resilience of mountain people and suggested that scientific efforts should build upon this strong and rich repository of knowledge by including mountain communities in the partnership. 

Smt Natarajan took the opportunity to highlight the efforts already taken by the Government of India, mentioning in particular the Conservation Strategy of 2006, the National Climate Change Action Plans (specifically the National Mission on Sustainable Himalayan Ecosystem – NMSHE), and the Guidelines for Governance for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystems. The Minister pointed out that the Government of India fully recognises the importance of good governance in the context of enhancing adaptive capacities of mountain communities. In conclusion, Smt Natarajan reiterated India’s commitment to ICIMOD’s efforts, and informed the audience of India’s recent commitment of USD 1 million towards the ICIMOD Foundation as a testimony of the Government of India’s support for ICIMOD’s efforts.

In his Presidential Address, the Honourable Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh drew attention to the collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Environment and Forests in two missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change: the National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystems and the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge. In both these missions, the Minister felt the relevance of a strong partnership with a knowledge centre such as ICIMOD. The minister also recognised the importance of strong policy support for ensuring regional cooperation. Shri Deshmukh ended by extending his support for ICIMOD’s efforts in strengthening regional partnerships to address climate change impacts and mountain development.

Two new ICIMOD publications, ‘Three Decades of India/ICIMOD Collaboration’ and ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development’, were also released at the event.

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Nira Gurung
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