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International Forum on the Cryosphere and Society

The Voice of the HKH


New Conference Hall, ICIMOD, Kathmandu

Date & Time

28 August 2019 to 30 August 2019

Despite decades of research on mountain development and the cryosphere, knowledge building and its applications have often followed independent, if parallel, tracks. It has become increasingly apparent that an alternative framework may be needed that acknowledges the plurality, interactivity, intersectionality, and co-production in the cryosphere and of the communities in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).

Accordingly, ICIMOD is organizing an international forum on the relationship between the cryosphere and society, a first-of-its-kind platform focusing on the emerging area of cryosphere contributions. While the concept of cryosphere contributions is a comparatively new lens through which to view the cryosphere and its intersection with humanity, this forum will explore its relevance in the HKH region and potential for building a bridge between science and society.

This forum seeks to bring together regional and international experts and stakeholders to discuss the latest research in this rapidly evolving field, clarifying and developing the “Voice of the HKH”.


In this forum, we intend to build on the key findings and recommendations of the Cryosphere Chapter of the 2019 Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, addressing how they are related to the cryosphere’s contributions and their sustainability in the HKH region. Consequently, we aim to establish a better understanding of the framework of cryosphere services that provide a link between the cryosphere and people in the high mountain communities and downstream. We invite key scientists from the region, the international scientific community, different user groups and decision makers to come together and establish a dialogue about the cryosphere and its role.

This international forum will facilitate discussions on the emerging and evolving topic of cryosphere contributions, what it means in the HKH context, what research is developing in the space, and pathways towards increasing the resilience of HKH communities.


  1. Provide insight from the latest cutting-edge research on the cryosphere and its intersection with societies of the HKH
  2. Explore the relevance of the framework of cryosphere contributions in the HKH
  3. Assess how ongoing climate and cryosphere changes affect society, including high mountain, indigenous, and marginalized communities, thereby enhancing resilience
  4. Create a space for networking and exchanging knowledge that spotlights youth and early-career researchers’ exceptional projects in this intersectional field
  5. To establish experts who will amplify the voice of the HKH by producing a series of clear guidelines and directed statements from the HKH research community to decision makers, clarifying the most significant concerns and necessary measures to address these

The Forum’s agenda will cover the following topics:

The high mountain environment: A shared heritage

This session will focus on:

    • The importance and diversity of the high mountain environment as a shared heritage
    • The role, contributions, and economic implications of the cryosphere and its changes to the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region and beyond
    • Climate change, sustainability, and people in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

The cryosphere’s contributions to society and the environment 

The objectives of this session include:

    • Assess the status of knowledge on various types of contributions of the cryosphere to society and the environment, including hydropower, irrigation, livelihoods, and culture
    • Identify and assess feedbacks and interactions of society and the broader environment with the cryosphere
    • Evaluate the importance and sustainability of these contributions
    • Assess the implications of cryospheric changes to society – the drivers and consequences in socioecological systems
    • Appraise the coping/adaptation responses and needs of both upstream and downstream communities

Cryospheric hazards and their impacts 

The objectives of this session include:

    • Assess the status of knowledge on various types of cryospheric hazards and their impacts
    • Identify groups most vulnerable to these impacts and how they perceive the risk
    • Evaluate the types of risks cryospheric hazards pose and how they can be mitigated, reduced, or adapted to

Decision making and transformative strategies in the high mountains 

The objectives of this session include:

    • Synthesize and extend the Forum’s key messages, analyse their scale and interlinkages, and identify the knowledge gaps and areas for future work
    • Ensure that gender and social inclusion are integrated in all aspects of decision making and development of strategies
    • Summarize all the sessions for the formulation of clear guidelines and directed statements from the HKH community to decision makers, clarifying the most significant concerns and necessary measures to address these

The Forum’s cross-cutting issues include gender and social inclusion, governance and scale in terms of impact, and geographical extent or magnitude.


Poster guidelines

Recipients of travel grants to the Cryosphere and Society Forum are expected to share their research through a poster presentation.

Poster size: 3 x 4 ft (portrait) or 4 x 3 ft (landscape)
Image resolution: at least 300dpi
Final submission date: Wednesday, 31 July 2019 (by the end of the day)
Ensure that you adhere to the instructions regarding the content, as indicated in the template
ICIMOD will oversee the printing of the posters.


    • Kathmandu University
      Kathmandu University (KU) is an autonomous, not-for-profit, non-governmental institution dedicated to maintaining high standards of academic excellence in Nepal. KU houses seven schools in different disciplines and has introduced various academic programmes in Nepal, in line with its vision to become a world-class university devoted to enhancing knowledge and developing technology.
    • ICIMOD
      The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. ICIMOD aims to help mountain people understand climate-induced changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities, while addressing upstream–downstream issues. The Centre supports regional transboundary programmes through partnerships with regional partner institutions, facilitates the exchange of experience, and serves as a regional knowledge hub.
    • State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences
      The State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences (SKLC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is a research entity that focuses on the cryospheric and climatic changes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The SKLC conducts research on modern snow and ice process, ice cores, and changes in mountainous glaciers and ice sheets, studying their impacts on water resource and environments in Antarctica and the Arctic and fostering science-based decision making for social and economic development in West China.
    • Donors
      Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC
      Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Event photos

Cryosphere Forum 2019 #DAY1
Cryosphere Forum 2019 #DAY2
Cryosphere Forum 2019 #DAY3

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