Message from the Director General

World Water Day 2009

‘Shared Waters Shared Opportunities’

(22 March 2009)

Dear All,

World Water Day provides us with an opportunity to join with our friends and colleagues from the Hindu Kush-Himalayas and the rest of the world in valuing the benefits that we receive from water, and to explore opportunities to increase equitable sharing of this valuable resource.

This year‘s theme for World Water Day is ’Shared Water - Shared Opportunities‘, with a special focus on transboundary waters. Cooperation in transboundary water management can help to build mutual respect, understanding, and trust among countries and people, and promote peace, security, and sustainable economic growth.

Globalisation and climate change will have an increasing influence on the stability of our fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. The impact of climate change on water resources is likely to be serious. As a regional knowledge development and learning centre serving the eight countries of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities, while addressing upstream-downstream issues. This is achieved, among others, through implementation of transboundary programmes in partnership with regional partner institutions, supporting networking, facilitating the exchange of experience, and serving as a regional knowledge hub.

The Himalayan region has the largest reserves of water in the form of ice and snow outside the polar regions and is the source of ten of the largest rivers in Asia. The river basins are transboundary and the rivers meet the needs for drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, fishery, inland navigation and others for more than 1.3 billion people living downstream. The river basins also support wetlands and varied habitats that contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity that benefits all. The conservation of water, its sustainable management, and negotiated future use are of paramount importance for the Himalayan people and have ramifications for the prosperity and stability of the entire region and beyond. ICIMOD is working to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of the mountain people and to sustain vital ecosystem services – now, and for the future. Thus water, rivers, and river basin management have a high priority. Among others, ICIMOD has initiated an assessment of the socioeconomic benefits of sharing flood information and the benefits of developing hydropower with a regional perspective, and is developing a framework for payment of environmental services.

’Shared Water - Shared Opportunities’ is a slogan that is very relevant to the Himalayan context. Click here to see our poster.  At the local level, water in the mountains and the associated services play a vital role in supporting the livelihoods of local communities, and especially activities like fishing and agriculture. At the same time, maintenance of healthy upland sources is essential for the downstream users. There is a strong upstream-downstream dimension which requires transboundary and regional approaches.
We look forward to working with our member countries and international partners to further efforts towards ensuring a sustainable and equitable supply and use of water in the region.

Best wishes to all on this special day,

Andreas Schild
Director General