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Targeting a climate change hotspot

Science to support the SDGs and sustainable water management in the transboundary Indus River basin


MS Teams

Date & Time

01 December 2021

About the dialogue

With the SustainIndus project initiated in 2019 starting to produce some promising results, it is critical to ensure that the project methodologies and results are relevant and useful for the sustainable development of the Indus basin. Due to the pandemic, the consortium partners have been reaching out individually to relevant stakeholders from the basin countries and beyond to seek inputs and share progress towards the project outcomes. This first science–policy dialogue aims to further these interactions and receive inputs from a wider stakeholder base. The objectives of the dialogue are to:

  • Introduce the project design, methods, and expected outputs to the region
  • Share progress and key findings of ongoing research work with the stakeholders
  • Identify policy gaps and needs in the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus in the Indus basin to align the SustainIndus project with basin needs


About the project

The Indus basin is a global climate change hotspot, characterized by a rapidly growing population and strong economic development. This is associated with an exponential increase in water and energy demands. Given the arid climate in the densely populated and heavily irrigated plains and the geopolitical tensions between the riparian states, the road towards achieving the SDGs for WEF is extremely challenging. The SustainIndus project aims to develop sustainable pathways that support decision makers and practitioners to develop science-based policy and climate-smart solutions to provide food (SDG 2), water (SDG 6) and energy (SDG 7) to all people in the Indus basin, now and in the future. To this end, the project will:

  • Establish how the WEF supply and demand may evolve in the future and translate global SDGs into quantifiable Indus Development Goals (IDGs)
  • Develop, test, and assess climate-smart technologies to optimize water use, hydropower generation, and food production to quantify the potential of these technologies for basin-wide scaling up
  • Quantify the synergies and trade-offs among WEF-related IDGs
  • Develop sustainable pathways consisting of optimal mixes of adaptation measures aimed at reaching the IDGs under changing climate and socioeconomic development scenarios
  • Put the research into use by promoting climate-smart technologies among practitioners and developing pathways for their implementation by key decision makers

SustainIndus is a four-year international collaborative research project implemented by a consortium of Utrecht University, Wageningen University and Research, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), and Climate Adaptation Services (CAS) Foundation. The consortium is developing a novel integrated modelling toolkit to help meet the project’s goals.


Time (NPT) Programme Moderator/facilitator
13:30–13:45 Online registration of participants Suzeena Shrestha, Programme Associate, ICIMOD
13:45–13:55 Welcome remarks Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD
13:55–14:05 Welcome and introduction to the dialogue’s objectives Arun B. Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager, River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD
14:05–14:15 Introduction to the SustainIndus project: Objectives and outcomes Walter Immerzeel, Professor –Mountain Water Resources, Hazards and Climate Change, Utrecht University
14:15–14:30 Water for food: Testing climate-smart agricultural innovations and potential for scaling up in the Indus basin Muhammad Khalid Jamil, Scientific Officer, Climate Change, Alternative Energy and Water Resources Institute, National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad

Wouter Smolenaars, PhD Fellow, Wageningen University and Research

14:30–14:45 Water for energy: Sustainable hydropower development in the Indus basin Sanita Dhaubanjar, PhD Fellow, ICIMOD
14:45–15:00 SDGs for water, food, and energy in the Indus: Translating global SDGs to Indus Development Goals (IDGs) Arthur Lutz, Researcher, Utrecht University

Wouter Smolenaars, PhD Fellow, Wageningen University and Research

15:00–15:15 Q&A
15:15–15:20 Break


Keynote speech
Key policy issues and related challenges in the mountain areas of Pakistan
Izhar Hunzai, Head, Soni Jawari Center for Public Policy, Gilgit–Baltistan
15:40–16:50 Panel discussion

  • What are the key issues and opportunities related to water, energy, and food resource management under changing climate and socioeconomic development scenarios in the Indus basin, particularly in Pakistan?
  • How are globally defined SDGs for WEF being adopted or translated to inform local policy in the Indus basin? How can these be improved through evidence-based policy interventions?
  • How can the SustainIndus project objectives, design, current findings, and expected outcomes be made more relevant and translated into relevant government policies, strategies, and practices?

Summary by the moderator

Moderator: Farid Ahmad, Head – Strategic Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit, ICIMOD

Panelists: Simi Kamal, Chairperson, Hisaar Foundation; Ahmad Kamal, Chairperson, Federal Flood Commission, Pakistan; Zaighum Habib, Sediment Modeling Specialist, Engineering and Agricultural Services Entity Pakistan, Islamabad; Bashir Ahmad, Principal Scientific Officer, PARC; Pervaiz Ameer, water resource management expert

16:50–17:00 Vote of thanks Muhammad Ismail, Pakistan Country Representative, ICIMOD

Sustain Indus Science Policy Dialogue

Science to support the SDGs and management of water resources in the transboundary river basin

Initiated in 2019, the SustainIndus project aims to develop pathways that support decision makers and practitioners in developing science-based policy and climate-smart solutions to achieve the SDGs, particularly the goals related to food (SDG 2), water (SDG 6), and energy (SDG 7).

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Sustain Indus Science Policy Dialogue