Message from the Director General

Celebrating World Water Day – ‘Water Cooperation’

22 March 2013
Kathmandu, Nepal

Dear Friends,

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 creating awareness about the importance of water for the wellbeing of people and ecosystems and achieving sustainable development.

The theme of this year‘s World Water Day is ‘Water Cooperation’. The theme aims to raise awareness of the need for water cooperation at all levels and to encourage countries to work together to ensure that water is well-managed, fairly distributed, and available to all. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region has abundant water resources in the form of snow, glaciers, and permafrost, and in soil, groundwater, and lakes. The region supplies water and other ecosystem services for agriculture, drinking, sanitation, and industrial uses – the basis for livelihoods – to more than 1.3 billion people living in the mountains and downstream river basins. However, climate change and increasing variability are leading to rapid retreat of our glaciers and shifts in the magnitude, timing, and frequency of rainfall, with longer dry spells and frequent floods, which are threatening livelihoods and ecosystems in the region. In addition to these physical changes, socioeconomic changes in the region have created increased pressure on our vulnerable freshwater resources. 

There is an urgent need to develop adaptation and coping strategies and mechanisms to address issues such as increasing water scarcity and water-induced disasters, and help prepare the nations and communities of the region to minimize risk. This can only be achieved through effective cooperation between the many actors in different sectors from local to international level.

View from Kagbeni in Mustang, Nepal, with Nilgiri Himal in the background

View from Kagbeni in Mustang, Nepal, with Nilgiri Himal in the background.
Photo: Sunil Sharma

ICIMOD as a centre for the whole Hindu Kush Himalayan region facilitates cooperation among partners on knowledge generation and exchange to address issues of too much - too little water, water-induced disasters, and ecosystem degradation. We recognize that water cooperation in the region needs time and trust. Over the past three decades, ICIMOD has provided a common platform for regional cooperation where policy makers, experts, planners, and practitioners exchange data, information, ideas, and perspectives towards achieving common solutions at local to regional levels. ICIMOD continues to work on disaster risk reduction and building resilient communities; reducing scientific uncertainties and knowledge gaps; valuing ecosystem services; promoting integrated and sustainable water management packages of practices; accessing and customizing global knowledge; and networking and building partnerships to address issues of multiple water management. We work towards finding solutions to critical mountain problems through bridging science with policies and on-the-ground practices. By doing this, ICIMOD helps tailor international knowledge to the region’s needs, and brings regional issues to the global stage.

ICIMOD has embarked on its new strategy with a dedicated regional River Basin Programme aiming to maximize the benefits of water and minimize loss of lives and livelihoods. We are working to reduce flood vulnerability in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Indus river basins by exchange of real-time data and information related to floods within and among participating countries through an established flood observation network and flood information (early warning) system. For this, ICIMOD cooperates with national partners in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. ICIMOD also carries out applied and action-oriented research at the village level, for example, on water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient use of water using micro irrigation systems. 

ICIMOD fosters transboundary collaborative research among regional member countries. It strives to develop replicable innovations and scale them up with implementation partners including government, development agencies, non-governmental organizations, and participating farmers at the national and local level. 

We at ICIMOD strongly believe that with the support of regional member country partners we can gradually move to a state where strong collaboration leads to win-win situations for all riparian entities and harmonious coexistence between people and ecosystems. There is enough water if we share it, cooperate and use it wisely.

Best wishes to all on this very special day,

David Molden