HKH Call to Action

Urgent steps are required to sustain mountain environments and improve livelihoods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).


HKH Call To Action

The HKH is a vital regional lifeline, but human drivers and climate change pose grave and immediate threats to the region’s livelihoods, biodiversity, and ultimately sustainability. Changes on the rooftop of the world are having and will continue to have major consequences, not only for the region but globally. Local, national, regional, and global actions are urgently needed to sustain this global asset, focusing on substantially increased investments and more robust regional cooperation for sustaining mountain environments and improving livelihoods in the HKH and concerted action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100.

The HKH Assessment and the resulting HKH Call to Action reflect five years of research, review, and analysis. The report was drafted in response to requests from governments in the region – meeting a demand for a comprehensive assessment of the region’s mountains, environments and livelihoods, and their status and their future. The HKH Call to Action has been developed as a roadmap based on the key findings of the HKH Assessment report and it articulates six urgent actions.

HKH Call to Action

“A shared vision for the future of the HKH region is one in which its societies and its people—children, women, and men—are prosperous, healthy, peaceful, and resilient in a healthy environment. To realize this vision, this HKH Call to Action elaborates six urgent actions. The key findings from the HKH Assessment and the draft HKH Call to Action were shared with multiple stakeholders during consultative workshops facilitated by ICIMOD’s nodal ministries in each of the eight HKH countries in 2019. The consultative processes were aimed at jointly identifying and developing the road map for this HKH Call to Action.”

six urgent action for hkh

Urgent actions

1. Cooperate at all levels across the HKH region for sustainable and mutual benefits

    • Take actions at national, regional and international scales to sustain the Hindu Kush Himalaya as a global asset
    • Build momentum on more robust regional cooperation for bringing higher investment in sustaining mountain environments and improving livelihoods in the HKH
    • Nurture and strengthen people to people, business to business and government to government cooperation and trust building in the region
    • Promote the HKH Science-Policy Forum as a platform for knowledge exchange, stakeholder engagement including science-policy, and regional cooperation

2. Recognize and prioritize the uniqueness of the HKH mountain people

    • Strength of mountains lie in the diversity of people and cultures that should be valued and respected
    • Collectively define the HKH mountain agenda with inputs from all stakeholders from the eight HKH countries
    • Strengthen the national, regional and global voice for the HKH region and its people, including indigenous groups
    • Promote actions that lead to gender equality and inclusive development
    • Promote resilience of mountain communities by supporting the diversity of cultures, situations and systems
    • Support “The HKH Calling” for cooperation on mountain issues and solutions
    • Promote mountain champions and leaderships, and encourage networks and alliances

3. Take concerted climate action at all levels to keep global warming to 1.5oC by 2100

    • Promote global recognition of HKH as hotspot of climate change and sustainable development
    • The challenges faced by the HKH due to the impacts of climate change are urgent and need to drive mitigation efforts globally and adaptation regionally
    • Take concerted action at regional, national and local levels on sharply reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), reduce biomass burning and promote clean energy solutions
    • Achieve carbon neutral societies in the mountains and hills of the HKH region by 2035 by providing opportunities, incentives and compensation mechanisms
    • Use both North to South and South to South cooperation to develop concerted climate action for the HKH region

4. Take accelerated actions to achieve the SDGs and 9 Mountain Priorities

    • Nine mountain priorities consistent with SDGs should be mainstreamed in each of the eight countries SDG action and reporting
    • National governments in the HKH region to promote use of multi-dimensional poverty measures
    • Enable mountain specific policies and development pathways that are pro-poor, and gender and socially inclusive
    • Adaptation to climate change should be top priority as it is cross- cutting with multiple SDGs; draw more investments for adaptation in the HKH
    • Labor migration within (rural- urban) and outside from the HKH is huge and needs to be mainstreamed into development and adaptation

5. Enhance ecosystem resilience; halt biodiversity loss and land degradation

    • Promote incentives and means for mountain communities to conserve and manage ecosystems for improving their livelihoods
    • Implement programs on freshwater ecosystems including cryosphere, watersheds and springsheds adopting river- basin management in transboundary scale.
    • Sustainably managing forests, rangelands and other ecosystems in the HKH through promoting transboundary cooperation for landscapes and river basins in the context of climate change
    • Build biodiversity information systems for better planning; adopt approaches to conserve and wise use of biodiversity including development of highly remunerative biodiversity products; address illegal trade

6. Regional data and information sharing and science and knowledge cooperation

    • Fill data gaps and develop actionable knowledge that is mountain focused and HKH specific
    • Foster cooperation and capacity building on data generation methodologies for consistent, disaggregated, timely and quality data on range of issues
    • Data generation and sharing underpins many topics but there are urgency for new data on climate variables, air pollution, water, energy, food security, biodiversity
    • Proactively promote HKH-wide cooperation in open data sharing for public good and services
    • Promote and make use of ICIMOD’s Regional Database System


HKH Call to Action consultations

Through a series of HKH Call to Action Consultations in ICIMOD’s regional member countries, the key findings and main messages of the HKH Assessment were shared with a larger audience to build momentum for more robust regional cooperation and to develop a roadmap for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the mountains. During these consultations, think tanks, senior experts, and high-level decision makers discussed key findings of the HKH Assessment, debated and validated its Call to Action and its integration with national and regional priorities, and charted a way forward for more robust regional cooperation around mountains to sustain this globally critical region and promote the mountain agenda.

The consultations have increased ownership of the HKH Call to Action, strengthened partnerships for sustainable mountain development among the HKH member countries, and provided a roadmap to promote the mountain agenda in global forums.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Ministerial Mountain Summit 2020

To further the mountain agenda of a prosperous, peaceful, and poverty-free HKH, a decision was taken by ICIMOD’s Board of Governors on 17 September 2019 to explore the possibilities of organizing an HKH Ministerial Mountain Summit in 2020.


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HKH Ministerail Mountain Summit Event