6–7 March: Visitors from the Department of Urban Development and Engineering Services, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, Bhutan

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Seven professionals from the Bhutanese Department of Urban Development and Engineering Services (DUDES) visited ICIMOD for two days as part of a study tour in Nepal. The first day was spent with the Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information System (MENRIS) Division, where a number of geospatial applications were shown and discussed. The visitors expressed their interest in the implementation of recent technologies in the area of database integration and spatial data infrastructure, and in the practical relevance of applications such as the forest fire monitoring system with SMS alert, the tracking of the Great Himalayan Trail Climate Smart Trek (see story for 31 January below), and the Kathmandu Earthquake Emergency and Response system. The study visit was a good opportunity for ICIMOD to show these applications to potential end-users and receive feedback on their practical operation. In addition, melting glaciers and GLOFs were discussed in the Bhutanese context. The SERVIR Himalaya project was presented, and potential future collaboration in Bhutan and the region were discussed.

On the second day, the visitors were taken to see different thematic programmes and briefed on issues such as water and the cryosphere, upstream-downstream relations, early warning systems, ecosystem services, reforestation, and beekeeping, with emphasis on human wellbeing. Issues in relation to urban versus rural development and the relevance of thematic areas such as water, energy, and forestry were also discussed. The afternoon was spent touring the ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari.