Countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas to Intensify Cooperation in Managing Transboundary Landscapes

   TwitCount

The biodiversity of important transboundary ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region is under threat from climate change, rapid urbanization, the introduction of invasive alien species, rising levels of pollution, and environmental degradation. Nearly 39% of the region’s area is within national protected areas, and 20% of this crosses national boundaries. But landscape degradation outside these protected areas has resulted in ‘islands’ of natural habitat for important species such as snow leopard and red panda. To connect these mosaics of protected areas through protected ‘corridors’ and to address other transboundary issues requires enhanced regional collaboration. Such collaboration can also help remediate unsustainable development activities in the landscape that threaten the valuable ecosystem goods and services which sustain the lives and livelihoods of local communities.

During the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India, representatives from Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed keen interest to intensify cooperation for the management of the Brahmaputra-Salween, Kailash, Kangchenjunga, and Karakoram-Pamir transboundary landscapes. These are among the seven transboundary landscapes where  the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is coordinating transboundary landscape management in collaboration with its eight regional member countries. “Each of these landscapes has unique features and importance”, said Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD. “For example, the Kailash landscape is sacred to at least five religions, and the Brahmaputra-Salween contains remarkably high biodiversity, hosting three of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots.” 

ICIMOD has been facilitating regional cooperation for conservation and development in the region through the ecosystem approach as advocated by the CBD and laid out in its Programme of Work on Mountain Biodiversity. Regional cooperation among countries sharing important transboundary ecosystems is crucial to ensure the long-term population viability of significant species, the flow of valuable ecosystem goods and services, including fresh water, and the resilience of mountain ecosystems and communities. 

ICIMOD’s transboundary landscape conservation initiatives were showcased in an event on 12 October co-organized with the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development and other partners. The side event on Managing Biodiversity in Transboundary Landscapes in the Hindu Kush Himalayas shared lessons from different stages in the development and implementation of inter-country initiatives. Presentations also highlighted future opportunities for cooperation in the conservation and development of these landscapes. The event was attended by CBD delegates and participants from the global conservation community, including representatives from the CBD Secretariat, the Government of India, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Department for International Development (DFID). Speaking on the occasion, Christian Glass of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) appreciated the work facilitated by ICIMOD in four of the seven transboundary landscapes and commited to support in  collaborative conservation and development initiatives of the Kailash Sacred Landscape over the next five years.  

Participants appreciated the efforts made by the member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas in managing transboundary landscapes through regional cooperation facilitated by ICIMOD. “The work around Kailash already provides substantial learning to lead the process in other landscapes as well”, said BMS Rathore, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. On this occasion the ‘Kailash Tool Kit’ for the Indian part of the landscape prepared by the GB Pant Institute was released by Dr Balakrishna Pisupati, Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority of India.

Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD, reiterated the need for continuous cooperation among countries from mountain regions, adding that “regional cooperation is expected to enhance inter-sectoral policy coordination in addressing regional and transboundary issues”.

Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, delivering welcome remarks. Photo courtesy: Amar G.

Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, delivering welcome remarks.
Photo courtesy: Amar G.

Participants of the side event, including David Coates from the CBD Secretariat. Photo by: Nakul Chettri/ICIMOD

Participants of the side event, including David Coates from the CBD Secretariat.
Photo by: Nakul Chettri/ICIMOD

Dr. Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations of ICIMOD delivering a speech. Photo courtesy: Amar G.

Dr. Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations of ICIMOD delivering a speech.
Photo courtesy: Amar G.

Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, and Dr Christian Glass from BMZ. Photo by: Nakul Chettri/ICIMOD

Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, and Dr Christian Glass from BMZ.
Photo by: Nakul Chettri/ICIMOD