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27 Apr 2018 | Press releases

Enhancing science-based regional cooperation through the transboundary upper Indus basin network

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A two-day workshop at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu consolidated efforts to strengthen research and knowledge generation through the Upper Indus Basin Network (UIB-N) across four riparian countries sharing the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) waters.

UIB-N members consist of government officials and relevant private sector organizations from Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan as well as international scientists and researchers from other countries and ICIMOD. The six UIB-N technical working groups and scientists working in the region discussed knowledge generated and gaps identified by research in the basin.

UIB-N core principles were revised to make them more responsive across the transboundary landscape. As a result, revisions were also made to the technical working group guidelines and the network objectives, vision, mission, and governance structure.

David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD, said he was optimistic about possibilities that might emerge from expanding the Upper Indus Basin network beyond Pakistan into Afghanistan, China, and India. He emphasised on the need to work together to understand the shared river basin, one of the most vulnerable areas in the region.

Peter Budd, the Australian Ambassador to Nepal, said that Australia is working to build mechanisms and platforms such as the UIB-N to generate information and enable greater cooperation across all riparian countries. Budd highlighted the need for coordination and cooperation in scientific programming and knowledge generation to support sustainable basin management while keeping current competing demands as well as climate and disaster risk management in mind.

Khalid Mohtadullah, Chair, UIB-N, said that the network’s greatest contribution is the voice it has given to communities in the UIB for shared benefits. However, he said that it is now time to think about the application of research findings. He also cautioned of the danger of losing investments amounting to millions of dollars if understanding around this common resource is not improved.

The workshop participants emphasised on the need and importance of such a neutral platform of scientists and researchers to share learning experiences related to the effects of climate change on the Indus Basin and on cryospheric resources in the region. Such a forum will provide them the opportunity to discuss possible solutions to deal with the effects of climate change and to provide advice based on scientific evidence to relevant decision makers in their respective countries and at international platforms.

The workshop revisited key aspects such as the number, role, and coverage areas of technical working groups four years into the implementation of the UIB-N. An additional working group has been introduced and the names of the initial six have been revised. While the network’s governance structure will remain as it is, the strategic committee will be revised to include representatives from Afghanistan, China, and India. An interim regional strategic committee has been tasked with proposing the governance framework of the network within six months. The expansion of the UIB-N into all four basin countries is expected to be an immense opportunity to learn best practices across borders, with the four country chapters as building blocks. The workshop was conducted by the Indus Basin Initiative (IBI) under the River Basins and Cryosphere regional programme of ICIMOD from 24 to 25 April 2018. The event was preceded by UIB side events on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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