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Indus basin initiative
30 January 2020 to
31 January 2020
Arun B Shrestha
The transboundary Indus River basin, shared by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, is ranked among the world’s most significant basins in terms of human dependency on its water resources and agricultural livelihoods. Home to nearly 215 million people, the basin has seven main rivers originating from glaciers and snowfields in the Western Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush, which are sources of irrigation for over 16 million hectares of agricultural land.
The Upper Indus basin (UIB) is composed of mountainous terrains of the Hindu Kush, Karakorum, and Himalayan mountain ranges. The northern part of Pakistan covers 39% of the UIB, and the country’s agro-based economy greatly depends on the UIB’s water resources, which provide 96% of the irrigation water and have the potential to provide 60,000 MW of hydropower to the energy-insecure country. The basin is already water scarce, but water demand continues to rapidly grow, adding to stresses on the resource from changing demographics and climatic conditions. There is a clear need to mount a concerted effort to understand and share the ongoing changes in the UIB and provide viable adaptation or mitigation solutions.
Keeping in view the strategic importance of the UIB and coordination gaps among organizations working on the basin, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) established an Upper Indus Basin – Monitoring Working Group (UIB–MWG) in 2012 to build resilience to climate change impacts. This group was later renamed and elevated to the UIBN, an informal knowledge and research network that comprises six technical working groups and members from different national and international organizations working on the UIB. The UIBN aims to promote coordination and collaboration among organizations working in the basin for improved understanding of present and future water availability, demand, and hazards and to develop gender-sensitive solutions for all stakeholders. This network focused its activities in Pakistan until April 2018, when participants of a regional UIBN workshop highlighted the importance of the regional network for addressing emerging issues of the entire UIB. Besides a regional UIBN, country chapters of all riparian countries were also proposed. Based on the recommendations of this workshop, the network has been regionalized, its governance structure approved in January 2019, and country chapters of riparian countries established. The UIBN – Pakistan Chapter (UIBN–PC) was formally established on 29 November 2018 and its governance structure was developed.
The UIBN–PC met five times since its inception, and the need for more meetings of general UIBN–PC members has become apparent. The participants of the last UIBN–PC meeting emphasized on developing the working plans of each technical working group (TWG) in line with the policies of federal and provincial governments to enhance the UIBN–PC’s visibility.
Given this backdrop and as per the decision of the last UIBN–PC meeting, ICIMOD is planning to organize the first general meeting of the UIBN–PC in Islamabad on 30–31 January 2020. The main aim of the meeting is to share the technical progress of the TWGs and their working plans; discuss the UIBN–PC’s theory of change; and discuss the preparations for the third regional UIBN annual meeting (RUAM) planned in February 2020.
The specific objectives of the UIBN–PC meeting are as follows:
Agenda List of participants