Message from the Director General 

International Mountain Day

A New Way to Work to Address Sustainable Mountain Development Challenges

11 December 2012

International Mountain Day, observed each year on 11 December, was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development – and in 2012, it is celebrated with exactly this broad theme: ‘Sustainable Mountain Development’. It is a fitting moment to announce a newly approved shift in how ICIMOD will work to support sustainable mountain development in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.

Much has changed in the situation in the region in the past five years. The mountains have gained greater attention as hotspots of climate change. Persistent poverty has led to increasingly high rates of migration out of the mountains. At the same time, the mountains have been increasingly recognized for the ecosystem services they provide. Regional institutions like ICIMOD are increasingly valued for their contributions to meeting the challenges of this changing environment. 

In 2012, ICIMOD has undertaken an intensive process to rethink its Strategic Framework to respond better to the changing needs. I am pleased to report that the ICIMOD Board of Governors, at its annual meeting held in Yangon, Myanmar from 27 to 30 November, approved both the new Strategic Framework and a new Medium-Term Action Plan (MTAP-III) for 2013

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2017. MTAP III provides a road map for ICIMOD’s work in the next five years towards realizing our vision, in which men, women, and children of the Hindu Kush Himalayas enjoy improved wellbeing in a healthy mountain environment.

The new Strategic Framework unveils a major shift in how we implement our programme. A new structure is being introduced to facilitate interdisciplinary work. Impacts will be delivered through five Regional Programmes – Adaptation to Change, Transboundary Landscapes, River Basins, Cryosphere and Atmosphere, and Mountain Environment Regional Information System – with a sixth programme, the Himalayan University Consortium, seen as an Emerging Regional Programme. All of these programmes will draw on the varied expertise from ICIMOD’s four Thematic Areas – Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services, Water and Air, and Geospatial Solutions – while also integrating cross-cutting topics such as gender, governance, poverty, economic analysis, and private-sector engagement. Knowledge Management and Communication will remain core functions of the centre. 

The Regional Programmes are formulated with a view to testing, piloting, and monitoring innovative approaches, facilitating transboundary cooperation, and meeting capacity building needs in the region. They will be oriented towards integrative knowledge products and delivering impacts. The Thematic Areas will focus on discipline-specific knowledge products. Working in partnerships, they will develop and customize methodologies and tools and carry out innovative applied research to support future programme development.

In the next five years, we plan to give special attention to partnership strategies, data and intellectual property rights, implementation arrangements for information use, strategic staffing, enhanced working relationships with member countries, and gender equity and integration. Particular emphasis will be placed on enhancing the quality of science to generate evidence-based recommendations for more positive learning and impact. We are committed to provide a bridge between evidence and policy and practice. 

ICIMOD can achieve its vision and mission only through good working relations with partners in the regional member countries. It also brings knowledge to the global arena by working with strategic partners from outside the region. During the next five years ICIMOD intends to continue to contribute mountain perspectives to global processes and forums such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the recently established Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and others.

These changes are aimed to make the organization more responsive to the needs and demands of its stakeholders, partner organizations, and especially the women, men, and children of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. On International Mountain Day, I am pleased to share with you this strategy for working to make sustainable mountain development a reality. 

With best wishes for a happy International Mountain Day.  

David Molden