11 December 2011: Celebrating International Mountain Day and Launch of the World Mountain Forum


ICIMOD celebrated International Mountain Day (IMD) by holding a joint programme with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The event saw the launch of the World Mountain Forum for Sustainable Development (WMF-for-SD). This is a joint public-private partnership that aims to connect communities with the private sector and which is keen on launching a strong public relations campaign on mountain issues in civil society.

With the theme ‘conserve, construct and celebrate’ a video conference was linked to IMD Day celebrations in Verbier, Switzerland. Gregory Greenwood, Director, the Mountain Research Initiative, introduced the programme in Switzerland. This was followed by an opening address by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman, Nestlé Group in Switzerland. At ICIMOD, Mr Daan Boom, Programme Manager, Integrated Knowledge Management, introduced the keynote speaker, Mr Rajesh Hamal, a noted cine artist from the Nepalese film industry, and panellists to the joint discussion panel, which included Mr Dawa Steven Sherpa, noted mountaineer and environmental activist, and Dr Rajan Kotru, Watershed Management Specialist, ICIMOD. 

In his keynote address, Mr Hamal stated that mountain people are essentially poor and marginalised and that mountain people are the right people to bring to the world’s attention the importance and relevance of the mountains. In the context of globalisation and the changing climate, he stated that ICIMOD as a regional institution can play an important role in the conservation of mountain ecosystems and the general well-being of mountain people.

Mr Sherpa said that mountain people are perceptive about the problems they face and are aware of the solutions to such problems, but lack the requisite resources and the technical know-how. They need to be heard and empowered to help themselves. Dr Rajan Kotru noted that the development paradigms in the last few decades have been economically driven and have not been able to address the needs of the mountain people adequately. There is a need for proper institutional mechanisms for the effective and equitable sharing of resources in the Himalayas. Dr David Molden, who moderated the panel discussion, summarised the significant role that actors and public figures could play in bringing the message of the mountains to the general public.

Dr Madhav Karki, Deputy Director General and Chair, Mountain Partnership Consortium, thanked the speakers for their participation and highlighted the public-private partnership of WMF-for-SD. He indicated that plans are underway to involve schools in the initiative in the near future.

Due to a technical issue ICIMOD was forced to disconnect with Verbier, Switzerland but continued with its own programme.