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ICIMOD raises Mountain Agenda at the Global Solutions Summit

During the Global Solutions Summit on 28–29 May in Berlin, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) joined a call for multilateralism and greater cooperation to develop sustainable solutions for today’s most urgent problems.

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On the first day of the summit, ICIMOD hosted a panel session focused on challenges and solutions in the context of a changing Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), a mountainous region that spans eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east, and serves 1.9 billion people downstream in 10 river basins. ICIMOD’s Director General David Molden shared recent research findings on possible impacts of climate change in the region. “It is getting hotter, faster, at higher elevations,” he said. “If we continue on the path we’re on, it could be an unthinkable 5 degrees higher in the mountains by the next century.” The panel stressed the need for concerted action to tackle global climate change and the need for greater investment in developing and scaling solutions for mountain areas.

The summit was hosted by the Global Solutions Initiative, a global think tank network that aims to create greater continuity and impact in G20 policy arenas. The summit brought together global policymakers, business leaders, and leaders from think-tanks and NGOs to recommend policies on major issues in member countries, such as infrastructure for sustainable development, migration, climate change, food security, and international economic governance. These discussions will feed into the G20 meeting in Argentina later this year. Speakers at the summit included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Special Advisor Jeffrey Sachs and German federal ministers of foreign affairs and environment, who called for a more holistic and multinational approach by the G20 to economic development.

Molden stressed the need to build resilience to climate change and a host of other changes. He said that cooperation among countries sharing mountain resources is a key step to support such actions and that issues in the HKH need to feature more prominently in global discussions. Jurgen Kropp, Deputy Chair Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, reiterated this: “We need to connect local scale challenges to global problems,” he said. “If we are able to develop solutions for the HKH, they will be valuable for the rest of the world.”

Molden also joined a panel on gender equity and economic growth hosted by the T20 working group on gender. He highlighted the challenges in the HKH of outmigration and the feminization of labour, as well as the need to renegotiate roles between women and men to frame women’s empowerment as a win-win in rural parts of the region.

Lyonpo Yeshi Dorji, Bhutan’s Minister of Agriculture and Forests, told participants that countries like Bhutan “need collaboration with and support from other parts of the world – be it in technology, financial resources, or human resources – to develop the unique solutions required to address challenges in the region.”

Greater cooperation within the region was outlined as a way to not only better advocate for mountains in global fora, but also to transcend geopolitical differences and create lasting solutions. “The Mountain Agenda applies to all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. We must align the Mountain Agenda to international agreements so that we can speak in a language everyone understands,” said Swarnim Wagle, senior advisor at Kathmandu University’s Institute for Integrated Development Studies and former vice-chair of the Nepal National Planning commission.

“We’ve learned from the Arctic Council that larger geopolitical interests need not cloud more urgent challenges,” he said. “This could be replicated in the HKH to address the urgent existential threat of climate change in the HKH region.”

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1. Experts field questions during an ICIMOD-hosted session on “Our Ecosystems and Livelihoods Under Threat: Solutions for a changing Hindu Kush Himalaya” at the Global Solutions Summit in Berlin, 28 May 2018. Photo: Amy Sellmyer/ICIMOD 2. David Molden, ICIMOD Director General, joins the panel discussion during the T20 Session on Gender Economic Equity for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development at the Global Solutions Summit on 28 May 2018. Photo: Amy Sellmyer/ICIMOD 3. ICIMOD joined global leaders and policymakers to discuss sustainable solutions to today’s largest challenges at the Global Solutions Summit in Berlin 28-29 May 2018. Discussions from the summit will feed into the G20 meeting in Argentina later this year. Photo: Global Solutions Initiatives

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