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Climate risks and infrastructure resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalaya



HUC’s Thematic Working Group on Cryosphere and Society


ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal

Date & Time

25 July 2022 to 28 July 2022


Chi Huyen Truong & Amina Maharjan

Organised by: Himalayan University Consortium (HUC-ICIMOD) | Supported by: University of Bristol


About the roundtable discussion and meeting

The roundtable discussion will solicit stakeholders’ perspectives on climate risks and issues concerning infrastructure in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) countries. During the discussion, a team from the University of Bristol will share a set of simplified tools for infrastructure risk assessments and discuss the applicability of these tools in the HKH context. The team will also discuss approaches to reduce post-hazard disruptions to lives and livelihoods.

During the meeting of the core group of the Himalayan University Consortium’s (HUC) Thematic Working Group (TWG) on Cryosphere and Society, members will consolidate a regional study on community perspectives on cryosphere hazards in Bhutan and Pakistan. Findings of the research will be shared among TWG members and policy makers in the respective countries. Members will also discuss a publication plan and roadmap for resource mobilisation.


Expected outputs

In addition to the dissemination of research findings of the regional study, this series of two events will contribute to the following three outputs:

  • A plan for publication and dissemination, including policy briefs and other creative media products, of the results of the completed research
  • A roadmap for resource mobilisation and partnership building for the TWG on Cryosphere and Society
  • An introduction to a set of tailored infrastructure risk assessment tools and their application in the HKH region


Expected participants

The TWG on Cryosphere and Society will be attended by its members, government officials from Bhutan and Pakistan, and researchers from the University of Bristol and ICIMOD. Researchers, government officials, and practitioners in Nepal will be invited to the roundtable discussion on infrastructure risk assessment.



Climate induced hazards are on the rise globally and more so in the HKH region. These increased climate hazards pose a significant challenge to infrastructure – vital for everyday lives and livelihoods. This risk is exacerbated by rapidly expanding infrastructure in the HKH, including into high-altitude parts of the region. Climate change-induced cryosphere changes are a major challenge to mountain infrastructure, which already face significant issues due to difficult geography and topography. As the IPCC AR6 WGII report points out, the risk of compounding and cascading hazards will increase in the future due to climate change impacts. It is unclear how these compounding and cascading hazards will unfold in the future, but we are already witnessing some examples of cryosphere-induced disasters in the region, such as the Melamchi floods in Nepal, Chamoli floods in Uttarakhand, and GLOFs in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

While it is important to look into building resilient infrastructure, loss and damage to infrastructure might be inevitable in case of massive events. Thus, it is also critically important to ensure that infrastructure is climate resilient. In the context of the HKH, it is important to plan for alternatives in case the existing infrastructures fail. The importance of such planning has been highlighted during recent disaster events in the region. Immediately after a hazard event, the impacted locations are often cut off both physically (destruction of roads and bridges) and virtually (destruction of electricity, internet and mobile communications). Challenges faced in getting access to clean drinking water and sanitation is another issue after a hazard event. Therefore, planning based on prior experiences is important to build the resilience of existing and future infrastructure; and we need plans to minimise disruption and quicken recovery in situations of infrastructure failure.




HUC’s Thematic Working Group on Cryosphere and Society

25–28 July 2022

Time Programme
12:30–13:30 Arrival and lunch
13:30–13:45 Roundtable introduction
13:45–14:00 Welcome remarks – Chi H Truong, ICIMOD
14:00–14:15 Welcome remarks and workshop objectives – Guy Howard, University of Bristol
14:15–15:00 Presentations from Pakistan and Bhutan and findings from the modelling studies (Q&A)
15:00–15:15 Tea break
15:15–16:00 Presentations from Pakistan and Bhutan (Q&A)
16:00–17:00 Review of partnerships – roundtable discussion led by jointly by HUC and University of Bristol

Key questions to guide discussion:

·        What aspects do country partners feel went well? Was there enough interaction and support from HUC and the University of Bristol, and was there enough time for interactions between the Pakistan and Bhutan teams?

·        What things could we have done better? For example, were there enough meetings, was there sufficient quality of guidance, were objectives and timelines clear? What could we change for the future?

17:00 Closing

Time Programme
09:00–09:30 Recap of lessons learnt
09:30–10:30 Discussion of dissemination of findings – objectives and key audiences
10:30–11:00 Break
11:00–12:00 Development of technical reports and briefing papers; documents for policy makers
12:00–13:00 Developing academic papers
13:00–14:00 Lunch
14:00–16:30 Writing workshops
16:30–17:00 Discussion on future dissemination event

Time Programme
13:30–14:00 Outline of future research proposal development and funding opportunities
14:00–15:00 Roundtable discussion of proposal development
15:00–15:30 Break
15:30–16:30 Small groups develop research objectives and work packages (modelling, social studies, infrastructure)
16:30–17:00 Closing

Time Programme
09:00–11:00 Small groups flesh out work package plans for proposal development
11:00–12:15 Feedback of key ideas from each group and plenary
12:15–13:30 Lunch
13:30–14:30 Discussion of next steps on development of proposals
14:30–16:00 Discussion of other opportunities for developing partnerships around cryosphere and society
16:00–16:40 Wrap up and next steps
16:40–17:00 Closing


Climate risks and infrastructure resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Time Programme
09:00–09:30 Registration
09:30–09:45 Introduction of participants
09:45–10:00 Introduction to climate risks in the HKH and transboundary risks in ICIMOD Strategy 2030 – Arun Bhakta Shrestha, ICIMOD
10:00–10:10 Introduction to HUC – Jakob Friendrich Steiner, ICIMOD


Introduction to roundtable: What are we trying to achieve and what are we interested in learning from the participants? – Guy Howard, University of Bristol
10:20–11:20 Discussion – Muhammad Shafique, University of Peshawar, and Amina Maharjan, ICIMOD

What are the main challenges facing infrastructure from climate risks? Key questions to guide the discussion:

·          What would you see as being the major risks related to changes in ice, snow, permafrost, flow variability, and extremes for infrastructure?

·          Have you had experience of these risks? If so, what were the main impacts?

·          Are these risks being addressed through changes in design, construction, or maintenance of infrastructure?

·          What are the broader challenges for infrastructure you are seeing from climate risks, and how are these being addressed?

·          What kinds of compound and cascading risks have you observed that pose grave risks to critical infrastructure?

11:20–11:35 Introduction to simplified risk assessment approaches and tools – Maria Pregnolato, University of Bristol
11:35–12:45 Discussion – Muhammad Shafique, University of Peshawar, and Amina Maharjan, ICIMOD

Participants’ experience of using simplified risk assessment and their views on feasibility of developing and employing tools

Key questions to guide discussion:

·          Do your organisations undertake risk assessments of infrastructure? If so, how is this performed and who does this?

·          What types of risks do you address in these risk assessments? In particular, are any linked to cryosphere or climate change?

·          Have you worked with local government, academia, and/or communities on risk assessments? If so, what was their role?

·          Have you developed and used simplified risk assessments? If so, how satisfied were you with these tools?

·          How do you see the development and use of simple risk assessment tools? Who should use them and what would see as the best type of format and approach?

·          Do you plan for the alternatives should the infrastructure fail as a result of hazards?

12:45–13:00 Next steps, wrap-up, and closing – Guy Howard, University of Bristol
13:00–14:00 Lunch