ICIMOD’s Medium-Term Action Plan V (2023-2026)

Towards a greener, more inclusive, and climate resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya


This document captures the first stage of our response to Strategy 2030: Moving Mountains. It defines our Medium-Term Action Plan for the next four years – 2023-2026.

It has been compiled through a rigorous consultative process involving members of our Board of Governors and the ICIMOD Support Group, national consultations in our regional member countries (RMCs), and discussions with our own staff. We paid close heed to the feedback and inputs received and we have moulded our priorities and created new structures and processes in response to priorities communicated to us.


In all country consultations, our diverse networks of partners have shown an engaged eagerness to work with us and indicated a clear and compelling need for ICIMOD to continue to respond to the emerging regional demands and priorities building on our solid foundations. The consultations reinforced and validated our role as a regional platform to bring together a wide range of stakeholders for regional cooperation, capacity enhancement, to amplify mountain voices and agendas, to act as a convenor for regional knowledge sharing, science and policy, and to help leverage investments for the region. The consultations placed an emphasis on youth, GESI, and current and possible applications of digital technology and innovation in the region.


In the spirit of our Strategy 2030, and our new core values, the priorities of our RMCs and partners will continue to be reflected as far as possible as we move forwards into more detailed planning and implementation of our interventions.

Section 1


This region – the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) – is hit hard by the perfect storm of the triple planetary crises – climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss – compounded by the setbacks of the pandemic, conflict, and rising poverty and inequality. As we underscored in our Strategy 2030: Moving Mountains, the time for business as usual is over. We need to step up our engagement and support transformative action at scale and with urgency. In this four-year (2023-2026) planning document – our fifth Medium-Term Action Plan (MTAP V), we set out our roadmap for tackling the external challenges and transforming ourselves institutionally to more effectively do so.

We have committed, through a refreshed mission, to the challenging and ambitious task of supporting policy and practice change towards the fulfilment of our new vision of a greener, more inclusive, and climate resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya. All our work is aimed at pursuing these agendas further, and this document provides the highest-level information on the structures and processes that will allow us to deliver practical outcomes and impacts from a more focused and prioritised portfolio.


Responding to advice of our regional partners, donors and staff, we have created an MTAP that pushes us to be purposeful and responsive, and yet adaptive, ensuring that we can better capture the opportunities that arise over the course of the plan period, thus enabling our work to move forward in stages from outcome to impact. It signals a shift away from aspirational targets to ensuring we can support our RMCs more effectively to deliver specific measurable changes. It also identifies a series of institutional change steps to make us a more agile and responsive institution, which puts our culture and core values at the heart of what we do. As part of this change, we will move towards a more streamlined structure (Figure 1), organising ourselves into three Strategic Groups (SGs) and six Action Areas (AAs), through which we will deliver our results – outcomes and impacts (see Section 2). These SGs and AAs will be supported by key business functions including Finance and Administration, Strategic Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning as well as Business Development and Resource Mobilisation and other processes (Section 3).

By 2026, following successful implementation of the commitments laid out in this MTAP V, we envisage an even more productive and impactful ICIMOD. To that end, this document contains a comprehensive blueprint for change, which we commit to take forwards step-by-step over the next four years, outlining: what we will do and how we will measure it – our portfolio and results framework (Section 2); how we will take it forward – our institutional transition plan (Section 3); and how we plan to raise the resources required for its successful implementation – our finance and funding plan (Section 4).

This MTAP V will, in time, be supplemented by several more detailed ‘nested’ strategies that will be compiled, e.g. on resource mobilisation, communications, as well as the finance policy, results framework, and transition plan.
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Section 2

Our portfolio and results plan

Our portfolio development was based on a combination of intense internal reflection on how to translate the vision and mission of our Strategy 2030 into action, along with iterative consultations with our Board and ISG, partners and staff and, most notably, a series of national consultations in our RMCs.

In this section, we set out our new portfolio: the way our work will be organised and what it will tackle (Section 2.2), along with the main elements of our results framework (Section 2.3). Further information on our Strategic Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (SPMEL) System is in Section 3.1.1.
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2.1. The portfolio

We have organised our work into three Strategic Groups (SGs): (1) Reducing Climate and Environmental Risks; (2) Shaping Green and Resilient Mountain Economies; and (3) Enabling Regional and Global Mechanisms for Sustainable Action (Figure 2). Each SG contains two Action Areas (AAs) which house almost all our professional staff. The AA will be responsible for results delivery, people and budgets. The combination of all work under the three SGs enables us to build on our existing strengths while equipping us to fulfil the theory of change elaborated in our Strategy 2030. Integration and collaboration across SGs and AAs will be necessary, and certain professional staff may have to contribute skills across several SGs and AAs.

The vital cross-cutting issues of gender equality and social inclusion, climate and biodiversity (Box 1) are incorporated into the delivery of our results and, if specific will also be supported through a dedicated resource for insights and innovation (Section 2.1.4).

We elaborate below the six AAs within each of these three SGs.


three strategic group and six action areas



Reducing climate and environmental risks addresses the increasing risk of natural hazards in the HKH region – many of which are transboundary. Risks include rapidly worsening air quality as well as floods, droughts, landslides, and permafrost thaw. This SG builds directly on our comparative advantage as a regional body and the depth of our experience in this area. Our work will address prevention of both rapid and slow onset disasters and pollution, as well as preparedness and response to risks – through monitoring, early warning systems, and better infrastructure.


Shaping green and resilient mountain economies addresses the challenge of limited viable livelihood options in the mountains that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and climate change, increasing poverty and outmigration, with women and vulnerable people left behind. Responses thus far have been small-scale and wholly insufficient to tackle poverty and build livelihoods. At the same time, it is critical to reverse degradation and regenerate the natural environment in these mountain areas, since they influence the whole region and indeed the globe.


Enabling regional and global mechanisms for sustainable action addresses the need to build regional collaboration and strengthen global leadership. As compared to other regions, the HKH has a relatively low international profile and has not attracted international climate and environment investment commensurate with its challenges. The region also suffers data and evidence gaps especially on regionally relevant policy and practice solutions. Building on the solid foundations of the HKH Assessment and HKH Call to Action, this SG will support the necessary enabling processes for a HKH regional mechanism, which would be one among many avenues to realise the multiple opportunities for collective regional action and deeper and broader global engagement.


We will analyse and tackle cross-cutting issues throughout our whole portfolio. These are situation-specific and often sensitive issues, and we will work hard to improve our analysis and engagement with partners, as well as our results management (Section 2.2). Some examples of critical cross-cutting issues in the SGs include:

SG1: Climate change is integral to this SG, driving increased risks such as of floods and landslides from glacier melt and permafrost thaw. We will build appropriate climate change projections (currently 1.5 degrees global warming) into all our work, and support RMCs to incorporate climate change into their infrastructure and development plans, in line with their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs). We will promote nature-based solutions that work with, rather than against, the natural environment in preventing and mitigating disaster risks. Finally, we will build social inclusion into all our risk management and solutions work; this is a critical element because the worst affected by disasters are the poor, vulnerable, differently abled, women, and the very young and old.

SG2: A clear focus on social inclusion, environmental degradation and biodiversity underpin the whole concept of a productive, sustainable, and equitable green and circular mountain economy. To face the challenges in putting GESI and nature-positive approaches into practice in specific programmes and developments, we will work with partners to promote rigorous and inclusive analysis of the issues, to help marginalised voices be heard, and to support key issues such as natural resource tenure. The effects of climate change (at 1.5o and beyond) will be factored into all plans and, in line with international policy discussions and regional commitments, we will look to integrate net zero and nature positive considerations to the extent possible.

SG3: Gender and social inclusion take a prominent role in this SG, through the question of whose voice gets represented in global and regional forums. This is not always straightforward and much of it is outside our control. Within our convening and supporting role, we will develop and promote mechanisms to raise the voices of the poor, vulnerable, differently abled, women, and the young and old and help their messages to be heard. We will target the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, and Malé Declaration processes.

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2.1.1. SG1: Reducing climate and environmental risks OVERVIEW AND RATIONALE

This SG focuses on managing the risks, including those that are transboundary, relating to water, cryosphere, land, and air. It will focus on improving the understanding and communication of risks and their implications for mountain peoples’ health, livelihoods, and safety, as well as on what they mean for policy responses and for future-proofing development investment. In addition to the testing and piloting of solutions to reduce these risks, in close collaboration with our RMCs and partners, a key feature of this SG is to build more regionally consistent and coherent enabling environments for risk management, whether through dialogues or networking, or national and regional policy solutions. The transboundary elements of this SG are especially important but also challenging to manage. The work of this SG will link to relevant areas of SG2 and SG3, as appropriate.

We have a long history of work in this area and have fostered strong relationships with key partners in the relevant sectors. However, these risks are very likely to increase significantly to 2030 and beyond, with increasing pollution, rising temperatures, biodiversity loss, and insufficient and inappropriate response measures, meaning that our work will need to take several leaps forward. It will need to draw in and coordinate far more with key partners, as well as to demonstrate and deploy the enormous potential of innovation – whether this lies in the powerful analytical and communication potential of digital technology, new thinking around nature-based solutions, or more direct engagement with social, financial, or institutional innovations.

SG1 brings together our response to commitments made in Strategic Objectives (SOs) 1 and 2 of Strategy 2030 and is directly linked to all our three High-Level Outcomes (HLOs) (see Box 2). It houses two AAs:


Managing cryosphere and water risks


Stimulating action for clean air ACTION AREA SUMMARIES


Managing cryosphere and water risks

This AA will address cryosphere (glaciers, snow, and permafrost) and water-related risks, that are increasing in intensity and complexity. These risks heavily impact some of the most vulnerable mountain and downstream communities – particularly women, children, the elderly and differently-abled – and regularly wipe out infrastructure and other development investments, resulting in thousands of lives and millions of dollars lost. In this AA, we will build on our experience and increasingly bring in newer ideas, such as digital technologies, citizen science, use of social media for knowledge sharing on risks and disasters, policy and institutional innovations, as well as deepening our engagement and coordination with RMC institutions and other partners.

This AA is configured around three inter-related work areas:

1. Supporting effective global, regional, and national responses to the changing cryosphere – We will work to strengthen collective understanding and cooperation across the RMCs on cryosphere monitoring. This will be part of a more systematic regional approach: looking at common monitoring and data analysis standards, modelling, protocols, applications or methods, increased communication and sharing of insights. We will continue to develop monitoring, data analysis and modelling, and increased communication capabilities across the HKH. To take the work of this AA further forward, we will support use and application of information to better understand wider development implications of cryosphere change and ensure that they are better recognised in decision making. As permafrost is less well understood, we will give it particular focus and address the implications of permafrost thaw for infrastructure, construction, and other investments.

2. Promoting innovative and inclusive approaches to DRR in policies, plans, and investments – We will respond to stakeholder concerns around the need for better understanding, and tracking, of multi-hazard (as well as cascading) risks. This will include co-developing, with users, multi-hazard risk assessment methods (although assessment of single hazards will continue) and tools for early warning and ensuring these are better integrated into policy, practice, and investment planning. We will continue to work on developing inclusive solutions to enhance resilience of vulnerable communities and infrastructure, through early warning/forecasting systems and nature-based solutions for disaster risk management and support related capacity development, as far as is possible, in transboundary contexts. We will further explore institutional solutions for disaster risk management, such as risk insurance, loss and damage financing, and social protection. We will continue with institutional capacity strengthening for RMC users, on effective use of early warning and implementation of solutions.

3. Improving integrated river basin management for regional benefit sharing and DRR in shared river basins – We will use state-of-the-art data, tools, and models to develop deeper understanding of opportunities for benefit sharing and risk management between upstream and downstream riparian countries within specific river basins, whilst also providing data and information using Earth observation and digital technology to provide insights on key trends occurring at a basin scale. We will help strengthen existing knowledge networks to establish functional dialogue mechanisms supported by science –policy dialogue. This work links with SG3, AAE. The primary Strategy 2030 long term impact area (LTIA) (see Box 2) is Transboundary Risk Reduction and Adaptation, but this work will also have links to the Biodiversity and Environmental Health and Green Mountain Economies LTIAs. This is because integrated river basin management contributes to sustaining environmental flows and reduction of mountain risks helps create a safer environment in which enterprise and investment can flourish.

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Stimulating action for clean air

The aim of this AA is to focus attention on the significant impacts of air pollution on human health, economic development, climate change, and the environment. Air pollution levels are high across the HKH and pollution does not respect borders, whilst at the same time, there are significant gaps between air quality outcomes and international/regional goals and targets. We will co-develop and scale air quality solutions with partners and provide an enabling policy and institutional environment for uptake and implementation of these solutions, whilst supporting our RMCs in building their own monitoring, assessment, and communication capabilities. There is also a need to build stronger links between air pollution and the climate change agenda – for example, brick kilns and other industries produce black carbon that not only impacts human health but also accelerates glacier and snow melt. We aim to take a lead role in supporting the drive towards evidence-based changes in policy and practice on clean air in the HKH region.

This AA is configured around two inter-related work areas:

1. Strengthening institutions, policies, and investments for cleaner air – We will serve as a convenor, bringing together the region’s scientific knowledge on air quality whilst encouraging science-policy linkages and air quality management decision support systems wherever needed. This will build on our experience in setting up observatories, monitoring networks, and our Atmospheric Watch Dashboard, and includes establishing a public platform on air quality data, modelling and forecasting for the HKH area. We will engage our RMCs and regional and international partners to build consensus around the need to protect the air of the HKH, to co-design solutions, and to create a regional clean air investment portal for potential investors (linked to the Mountains of Opportunity Investment Framework in SG3-AAE).

2. Encouraging adoption of cleaner and socially responsive solutions and investments for effective reduction of air pollutants, including SLCFs and GHGs – We will work to help reduce critical air pollutants in industrial and other sectors by engaging with partners to promote adoption of cleaner fuels and energy efficient technologies, and promoting behavioural change. We will focus on scaling our existing brick sector work, with more focus on social issues, and investigate opportunities to work with other sectors, industries, and activities which are polluting or greenhouse gas (GHG) p roducing and build the buy-in for transitions to and investments in cleaner technologies. We will also aim to build a comprehensive understanding of the status and impacts of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) at national and subnational levels, both for global reporting and to facilitate mainstreaming of SLCFs and GHGs in climate plans and programmes.

The primary Strategy 2030 LTIA (See Box 2) for this work will be Improved Air Quality but it will also contribute to the Biodiversity and Environmental Health and Transboundary Risk Reduction LTIAs, since air pollution can affect weather patterns, amplify cryosphere melting, damage crops, forests and grasslands, and acidify river and lake water. The activities under this AA also contribute to our Green Mountain Economies LTIA through clean energy solutions.
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2.1.2. SG2: Shaping green and inclusive mountain economies OVERVIEW AND RATIONALE

This SG focuses on delivering environmentally sustainable, but economically viable and socially inclusive solutions for some of the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable people. With a focus at both local and landscape levels, it will build understanding of the implications of rapid socio-economic, climate and environmental changes on mountain livelihoods and economies that are challenged by their remote, fragile, and hazard-prone settings. It will also investigate which combinations of solutions might work with the realities of large-scale male outmigration, rural-urban disconnectedness, feminisation of production, coupled with rapidly deteriorating environmental health. With governance systems continually changing and evolving, solutions will need to recognise these changes and ensure approaches take account of and align with emerging structures. As many existing options will be challenged by global warming scenarios at greater than 1.5°C, it will be especially important to ensure that options are put through the test of such future scenarios. Our work in this SG will link to relevant work in SG1 and SG3 as appropriate.

With our rich history of work on adaptation and resilient mountain solutions we are uniquely well placed to work in this area. Alongside policy makers, investors, and communities, we will create new understanding and opportunities for adapting and transforming mountain livelihoods and economies, whilst also promoting the restoration or regeneration of ecosystems and landscapes. To deliver on this agenda, we must take a significant step up and embrace contextual realities, understand what kinds of policy, institutional and technological innovations are required, and establish new partnerships. For instance, this may include engaging with our partners to strengthen relationships with international finance institutions (IFIs) and to test concepts such as community benefit sharing around hydropower, bioprospecting, and carbon trading, or, with conservation NGOs on how to ensure that new and evolving models of green economic incentives and nature markets are fair and equitable. This will demand rigorous evaluation of risks and opportunities and building of new capabilities. It will also involve significantly enhancing our exchange and testing of innovations – including through establishing innovation exchange platforms across the region, such as the Knowledge Park at Godavari, with the private sector, or other more site-specific innovations such as through the application of digital technology, in FinTech.

One of our most important commitments will be an emphasis on just transitions – to ensure that the costs and benefits of these kinds of ‘green and resilient economy’ responses are fairly and equitably distributed, and do not increase marginalisation. We will make concerted efforts to ensure that new vulnerabilities do not arise from new approaches and that we make tangible knowledge contributions towards the improvement of the well-being of mountain communities by helping create new jobs and better and more secure sources of income from green mountain enterprises.

This SG2 brings together our response to commitments made in SO1, SO2 and SO3 of Strategy 2030 and is directly linked to all three HLOs. It houses two AAs:


Adapting and transforming livelihoods and economies


Restoring and regenerating landscapes ACTION AREA SUMMARIES


Adapting and transforming livelihoods and economies

The aim of this AA will be to explore options for and co-develop ‘future-fit’ enterprises and livelihood opportunities. In many mountain areas, livelihood diversification is hampered by restrictive policies, regulations and institutions and poor access to markets, or marketing arrangements. For example, mountains are rich in high value resources such as medicinal and aromatic plants, but often well-intended interventions promoting harvesting of these plants for sale can lead to over-exploitation of the resource. In response, our work in this area will involve co-creating more conducive policy and institutional environments that enable just transitions to more sustainable, low carbon and circular economic models, that do not serve to further disadvantage the already disadvantaged or result in further degradation of productive ecosystems. We will focus on improving regulations; enhancing the marketing of these high value products; blending different livelihood streams, such as agriculture, yak pastoralism, and tourism, with other emerging income sources; and seeking to redirect the skills of youth and women to harness emerging opportunities through digital technology, market exposure, and integration.

Our experience of working on resilient mountain solutions and value chain development of high value products, entrepreneurship and services provides a solid foundation for this work. However, over this MTAP V, we will need to enhance our efforts and deepen our partnerships, ensuring we co-create and co-design with existing partners but also bring in new partners, especially on policy, scaling, and marketing.

This AA is configured around three inter-related work areas:

1. Supporting institutions to better respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid socio-economic and climate and environment changes – We will collaborate with partners to co-generate robust evidence on innovative approaches and solutions for adapting and transforming livelihoods and economies. We will also explore new approaches to assessment and communication of socio-economic and environmental trends in mountain regions to enable evidence-based decision making in support of new livelihood and enterprise opportunities.

2. Supporting the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems that bring inclusive green, resilient, and circular enterprises into the HKH – We will support the development of well-functioning resilient, adaptive, and future-fit entrepreneurial ecosystems by supporting key actors to build understanding and exposure to a variety of green and resilient business models, energy efficient and low carbon methods, regenerative waste management solutions and other innovations, along with enabling policies and strengthening women and youth led entrepreneurial capacity. We may also explore the development of a region-wide, globally linked, digital platform connecting entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, technical experts, and policymakers for peer-to-peer knowledge and experience sharing, collaborative business development, adoption of best practices, building from our commitment to establish innovation exchange platforms across our region.

3. Building enabling environments for sustainable and inclusive production and trade in high-value HKH mountain products and services – We will work to strengthen nature-positive and resilient, but high value and pro poor, value chain solutions in the areas of agriculture, pastoralism, and tourism, and build enabling policy and institutional environments. We will aim to facilitate learning and exchange on means and methods across the region, including certifications and standards, marketing, and building institutional capacity for creating enabling environments.

The primary Strategy 2030 LTIA is Green Mountain Economies, but this work will have indirect links to Transboundary Risk Reduction and Adaption, given the use of nature-based solutions for livelihood enhancement and risk reduction, as well as Air Quality in supporting transition to low carbon models.

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Restoring and regenerating landscapes

The aim of this AA is to help address the rapid and extensive degradation of the mountain biodiversity and landscapes whilst also providing critical ecosystem services for downstream communities. Despite the HKH’s enormous natural capital, its unique biodiversity, and the potential for developing better revenue streams from its ecosystem goods and services upon which billions depend , these are still not properly valued and realised. Mountain communities who host and protect these natural assets go unrewarded, largely because ecosystem goods and services continue to be perceived as free and infinite, and accounting for their value and the cost of degradation in development policy, planning and investment is complex. We will focus on building a better understanding of the trends, whilst also exploring, co-designing and supporting implementation of a new generation of approaches and instruments that reward mountain communities for their environmental stewardship.

This AA is configured around three inter-related work areas:

1. Enabling the application of incentive mechanisms for more inclusive management of mountain biodiversity, and transboundary landscapes and ecosystems – We will work to co-develop, co-design and test new and innovative incentives, financial subsidies, and social protection schemes and nature markets, to better incentivise the conservation, regeneration and restoration of rangelands, wetlands, forests and biological corridors, and deliver returns to mountain individuals and communities. Learning from past experience, we will place special emphasis on understanding the emerging governance systems and political economies of such schemes, and how to implement these schemes in fair and equitable ways. We will also explore and promote effective landscape-based approaches such as other effective area based conservation measures (OECMs). Finally, we will identify more effective mechanisms of tracking and managing human wildlife interactions and conflict, including regional cooperation (linked to SG3).

2. Restore and manage high-altitude rangelands for resilience and multiple social and ecosystem benefits – We will focus on pastoral communities – some of the most vulnerable groups in the HKH – and the rangelands upon which they depend. We will build on our past work whilst looking at the approaches and mechanisms that will enable more inclusive and sustainable development of pastoralist livelihoods in changing contexts. Our work will involve monitoring trends, regional learning and sharing, and institution building, co-creating, evaluating, and promoting the scaling of innovative rangeland management approaches and policies.

3. Regenerate and manage springsheds and wetlands for multiple social and ecosystem benefits – We will work on mapping and indexing of springs, promoting effective and inclusive policies for spring and wetland regeneration and management at national and subnational levels, and strengthening the capacities of RMC institutions to inclusively manage springshed revival and wetland conservation. We will also promote multistakeholder platforms for spring and wetland revival to include civil society and impact investors.

The primary Strategy 2030 LTIA is Biodiversity and Environmental Health, but this work will also have indirect links with the Transboundary Risk Reduction and Adaptation, and Green Mountain Economies LTIAs, given the use of nature-based solutions.
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2.1.3. SG3: Enabling regional and global mechanisms for sustainable action OVERVIEW AND RATIONALE

This SG focuses on regional and global agendas. It brings together work that demands cooperation and collaboration at a strategic and region-wide level since coordinated efforts are required for truly effective protection of the HKH’s public goods given their regional and transboundary nature and impacts.

This SG also recognises that any regional effort must be complemented by global action, as what happens in the rest of world has significant implications for the HKH and, equally, national and regional responses need to shape the global agenda. Thus, we will strengthen our support to RMCs for advocating on mountain issues in the multiple regional and international processes pertaining to climate, environment, and development, as well as our engagement with our network of regional and international partners in these forums. Together with enhanced global outreach, we will also help amplify the voices of marginalised and vulnerable mountain communities.

ICIMOD is the only organisation in the HKH region that has the mandate and the capabilities to take forward this level of regional cooperation, coordination, and collaboration on mountain specific issues. Through MTAP V, we will place greater emphasis on this, building on past efforts. SG3 will also support and work with SG1 and SG2 in amplifying their work regionally and globally. Throughout, we will push for gender, equality and social inclusion and acknowledge the leading role and voice of HKH youth.

This SG brings together our response to commitments made in SO2 and SO3 of Strategy 2030 and is directly linked to HLO2 on ‘building recognition of the HKH in global forums to attract investment’ and HLO3 on ‘delivering a high-level institutional mechanism for regional cooperation and collaboration’. It houses two AAs:


Building institutions for regional cooperation and collaboration


Strengthening global leadership in sustainable mountain development ACTION AREA SUMMARIES


Building institutions for regional cooperation and collaboration

Through this AA on Building Institutions for Regional Cooperation and Collaboration, we aim to deliver the evidence-based knowledge and insights, the institutional policies, and the investment mechanisms needed to enable the necessary transitions to a more sustainable HKH. We will build on our work and engagement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and our Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment and Monitoring Programme (HIMAP) and take forward other specific commitments related to regional coordination as agreed to in the HKH Call to Action and the Ministerial Declaration 2020.

This Action Area is configured around three inter-related work areas:

1. Developing effective regional cooperation and collaboration mechanisms that tackle climate and environment risks and shape green, inclusive, and resilient mountain economies – We will work to deliver more formal region-wide alliances, with priority actions including exploring options for an appropriate regional configuration or framework convention like in other regions – the Alpine Convention, Arctic Council, and the Carpathian Convention, among others. This work will cover all the policy engagement related to developing regional guidelines, mechanisms, and protocols, establishing regional working groups on critical issues and themes raised in the HKH Call to Action, and support the work of the HKH High-level Task Force (HLTF). In addition to acting as the Secretariat for the HLTF, the work will involve hosting a Ministerial Mountain Summit every two years.

2. Improving responses among public, private, and civil society actors to key regional issues and trends – We will work to deliver evidence-based insights and improved access to information on regional trends and events to enable more effective decision-making, as well as stronger coordination of regional information services, monitoring of progress against key SDGs (and other) indicators, and methodologically rigorous thematic syntheses moving forward from the HKH Assessment. Other key elements will include organising science-policy dialogues, capitalising on existing mechanisms, where relevant, such as our transboundary landscapes and river basins networks, strategically tapping into the network of Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) and South Asia Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) member institutions, and setting up formal links with carefully selected, global and regional research institutions and think tanks to support our thought leadership and to push our innovation boundaries.

3. Securing sustainable increases in investments for climate action and sustainable (green, climate resilient, and inclusive) development – We will work to build a region-wide investment framework to attract new and additional investment that is supportive of the implementation of RMCs’ NDCs, NAPAs, and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). This will involve taking forward the Mountains of Opportunity Investment Framework to guide and scale up climate smart and nature positive investment in the six mountain-specific priorities outlined in the HKH Call to Action.

This AA links to all four Strategy 2030 LTIAs and directly to HLO2 on ‘delivering a high-level institutional mechanism for regional cooperation and collaboration’.

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Strengthening global leadership in sustainable mountain development

Through this AA, we aim to become a global knowledge lead on sustainable mountain development and amplify the voices of mountain communities – including youth, women, and marginalised communities such as indigenous people – to build recognition of the HKH as a critical global asset. Through this work, we seek to shift understanding of mountain realities from the periphery towards the centre of the global climate and environment discourse. This would allow for the HKH, the pulse of the planet, to be universally recognised for its importance as one of the main barometers of our planet’s health — with changes happening here before they do anywhere else, affecting millions. The HKH has not yet achieved the kind of global profile that attracts the scale of investment required to meet its complex challenges. Thus, there are opportunities for deeper and broader global engagement and for building new alliances and collective leadership in global processes.

This AA is configured around two inter-related work areas:

1. Reflecting mountain concerns in relevant processes and decisions of global multilateral agreements –

We will work to build global recognition of the HKH by supporting RMC focal points and other high level mountain champions and institutions in their efforts to raise the profile of the HKH and advance the mountain agenda by providing targeted evidence and technical support relevant to the ongoing decision processes of the international conventions and treaties, such as UNFCCC, UNCBD, Sendai Framework, and Malé Declaration. We will develop and implement more targeted communication, engagement, and outreach strategies for these international meetings, whilst maintaining our contributions to key international science-related forums, such as IPCC and IPBES, to gain ground as a global knowledge leader on sustainable mountain development. We will always strive to bring together gender balanced and socially inclusive groups of experts, policymakers, and practitioners to share knowledge and advance the mountain agenda on climate change and sustainable development.

2. Contributing to more effective global responses to the rapid changes occurring in HKH and other mountain regions –

We will work to deepen existing partnerships and build new strategic partnerships with other global and regional organisations leading on sustainable mountain development to strengthen the collective voice of mountain communities, including HKH women and youth, and other disadvantaged groups. Seeking out and building alliances with entities representing other regional and subregional groupings and strengthening South-South cooperation will be especially important. Equally important is building partnerships with other renowned universities and institutions from both within and outside the region, to review the state of knowledge and build scientific cooperation on key issues of importance and relevance to the HKH, such as cryosphere science, disaster risk, rangelands, wetlands, biodiversity, tourism, farming systems, springsheds, and integrated river basin management, among others.

This AA links to all four Strategy 2030 LTIAs and directly to HLO3 on ‘building global recognition of the HKH’.

Long-term impact areas (LTIAs)

Our highest-level aims are defined in the LTIAs within our Strategy 2030. We have committed to linking our LTIAs to key international tracking indicators including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global frameworks such as the Paris Agreement, Malé Declaration, Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework of the UNCBD, and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Our LTIAs are in our sphere of interest/concern – that is, far from being under our control – but since they are the ultimate goals of our work, it is vital for us to track them to ensure and demonstrate the relevance of our work.

We will regularly collate and scrutinise relevant HKH monitoring data on these LTIAs (as linked to work in SG3, AAE) to get the big picture of ongoing change, to seek new opportunities for us to contribute, and as an input to prioritising our interventions. At international and national levels, the LTIAs are mostly tracked by external bodies using SDG indicators and other internationally agreed metrics. However, not all relevant metrics are well defined or regularly monitored across the HKH and RMCs, and we have a potential role in filling some gaps as defined under the work of SG3. We will also measure links to LTIAs – to the extent possible – in all impact evaluations of our work.

High-level outcomes

Our high-level outcomes (HLOs) comprise our second results layer, are in our ‘sphere of influence’ – that is, not under our control, but potentially attainable, given time and with appropriate partnerships – and serve to keep us focused on achieving outcomes at scale. They ensure that we work at three interlinked levels: national, regional, and global and will be covered in all evaluations of our work. The general HLOs in our Strategy are translated into Specific Outcomes and Targets for 2026 for each work area.

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2.2.2. Planning for results

Since we are a knowledge organisation with limited or indirect influence over outcomes, and working in a complex environment, we are taking an adaptive management approach. This means keeping a firm eye on our long term aims and strategy, while constantly monitoring progress and, if necessary, modifying our tactics. Staff leading our AAs will plan and track their own work and accomplishments, as well as track key changes in the wider environment, including actions by partners that are relevant and linked to our results commitments. In regular review meetings, we will investigate progress towards outcome targets and make difficult decisions about specific interventions to progress, amplify, put on hold, or stop.

In this context, we are planning for MTAP results in two stages:

  • The first stage is strategic planning, summarised in this document (Section 2.1.1–2.1.3 and Annex 2), that aims to identify the main areas of importance to the HKH that are within our scope, as well as the priority entry points (work areas) and outcomes (specific outcomes). Most targets are qualitative (e.g. changes in policy), in keeping with our role as a regional knowledge organisation working through others. In appropriate cases, however, where we are already working towards impact level (e.g. in the brick industry), we have used quantitative targets. Each SO is tagged to one or more LTIAs and HLOs, making it possible to trace our contributions toward these.
  • Once this strategic plan is broadly agreed, the second stage is intervention planning, with more detailed analysis of entry points and baselines, interventions and partnerships, and metrics of success. The first round of detailed planning will serve as a basis for iterative review and further refinement of metrics, as we get used to the new adaptive management system. Detailed analysis — especially for our new work areas which may need more investigation – will take some time, but this investment will yield benefits in terms of clarity and more realistic results. Teams may also require some capacity building for their new, stronger roles in data collection and reporting.

In this first strategic planning stage, we have identified 2-4 Specific Outcomes (SOs) for each Work Area, based on an initial analysis of current needs and entry points. SOs are in our sphere of influence and represent areas where we believe significant steps forward are potentially attainable in the MTAP V time frame, when working together with partners.

For each SO, we have briefly summarised our understanding of the baseline situation and proposed outcome targets for the MTAP V period (to 2026) and we will articulate outcomes for the whole Strategy period (to 2030) in the detailed Results Framework. In this document, outcome targets are still quite broad in some areas, but these will be refined in the intervention planning stage.

  • In the intervention planning stage, we will also undertake more detailed analysis of cross-cutting issues, in particular GESI (signalled in Box 3 by the word ‘inclusive’ or ‘inclusion’). Social inclusion, equality, representation, and empowerment are key to all areas of our work, and it is critical to develop a deep understanding of these issues, and to design interventions that are supportive of rather than undermining GESI aims. However, GESI issues – such as ethnicity, religion, caste, wealth, and gender – are both sensitive and situation specific, so they cannot be fully addressed in initial intervention planning, or by ICIMOD in isolation; they must be revisited throughout the work as part of the adaptive management approach.

These specific detailed results and corresponding monitoring, tracking, and reporting mechanisms will be integrated into a new SPMEL Strategy and underpinned by a management information system (MIS) feeding into an online publicly accessible ICIMOD Results Dashboard accessible to all stakeholders. We will review progress against MOAs, SOs and outcome targets at regular intervals to ensure they are on track and to make appropriate changes (see Section 3.1.1 – SPMEL). We will report evidenced progress against SOs in our dashboard and annual reports. The Stages to Outcome and Impact Case Reports will be our main reporting tool, reporting evidenced progress against our ambitions, and highlighting qualitative and quantitative results as appropriate. We will also set annually agreed milestones that link upwards to SOs and downwards to individual staff performance which we will establish and review in six monthly planning and review sessions. Finally, we will score the SOs against OECD-type markers for cross-cutting issues and ensure that all reporting is substantiated by evidence and subjected to quality assurance checks.



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Section 3

Our organisational plan

3.1. Overview and rationale

To achieve our ambitions to 2030, we will transform our institution to be more agile, efficient, responsive, inclusive, and transparent. This will require a deep review and modernisation of our policies and processes and an alignment of our work culture to our new institutional core values – integrity, neutrality, relevance, inclusiveness, openness, and ambition. We will also take steps in refining our processes for effectively managing our risks and mitigation measures, at both institutional and portfolio levels, as a part of our overall revised risk management strategy and process.

As part of the MTAP V period (2023-2026), we are undertaking a transition process that will map out the key step-by-step adjustments required to institute a change management process that is fit for purpose, comprehensive, well-resourced but realistic (see Section 4, Financial Management Plan). We will look to the lessons from the past, feedback from our key stakeholders, and the latest innovations and best practices in organisational effectiveness as part of this transition. We will use a consultative process and a communication plan for this transition to ensure that diverse views are included, decisions are shared in a transparent and timely manner, and strategies are in place to help people adapt to change.

In addition to the change management plan, we will lay the foundation for the transition through enhancement in the below listed business functions which are central to the delivery of our results. We will also track internally our progress against institutional key performance indicators (KPIs), which is critical to make us an agile organisation delivering on its ambitious 2030 targets. The key steps for these functions are included below, with associated timelines (see Annex 3).

A more detailed Transition Plan, which will also articulate our institutional KPIs to ensure we are on track with our change management commitments, as well as other institutional documents (e.g. Results Framework, Finance Policy, Institutional Risk Management Strategy, Resource Mobilisation Strategy, HR Management Strategy), will be initiated in September 2022, and implemented through the MTAP V period.


We will further integrate GESI, youth leadership, and other cross-cutting issues into each function and will elaborate on how this will be done in the detailed transition and follow-up plans. Broadly speaking, we commit to including cross-cutting dimensions of our work in:

  • our Results Framework, SPMEL and prioritisation exercises – including specific GESI markers
  • our guidelines for internal quality review – both ex-ante and for publications
  • our ethics policy and guidelines – including how to manage safeguarding
  • our partnership approach – particularly as we prioritise new partnerships and assess existing partners
  • our BDRM and project and knowledge management processes – using a multi-disciplinary approach, ensuring the involvement of colleagues with relevant GESI expertise, and developing guidance on how best to integrate GESI and youth leadership into programmes
  • our updated HR Management and Development Strategy – focusing on attracting and retaining women and other marginalised groups, promoting youth leadership, mandating GESI-related capacity building and creating a respectful work environment, and ensuring gender equity and parity throughout all aspects of HR

We will build on and expand our efforts in digitalisation to ensure all processes are optimised for alignment and efficiency. Broadly speaking, we plan to:

  • build a searchable public results dashboard allowing our funders, partners and stakeholders to monitor ICIMOD’s programmatic progress against key institutional progress markers
  • enhance our partnership-related digital systems to effectively track the processes, roles and responsibilities, commitments that require timely follow-ups
  • design digital systems for BDRM to document evidence and intelligence, monitor engagement and commitments and ensure timely follow-ups
  • develop user-friendly internal platforms to share all business processes, tools, and guidance, and to coordinate advice, coaching and mentoring to make effective use of the platforms
  • transform our website into a knowledge management space to enable enhanced and easy access to and use of our content, including integrated feedback loops to improve our content
  • upgrade our public facing digital platform for recruitment to attract talent from across the regional member countries and beyond
  • leverage both new and existing digital technologies to promote ICIMOD as the go-to resource for data and information on critical issues and best practices for the HKH
3.1.1 Strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation, and learning

We commit to developing an adaptive, learning and performance-based approach that will focus on assessing collective outcomes together with our partners – building on project and output-based monitoring to deliver a stronger and more focused outcome and impact monitoring system. Strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (SPMEL) will underpin all our work and results. We will introduce a ‘stages to outcomes and impact’ monitoring approach to support results reporting and learning, and an evaluation system that meets international standards of transparency and gives confidence to governing bodies, funders, and other stakeholders, thus indirectly helping to attract and retain investment. The system will have a publicly available dashboard of our results performance.

The SPMEL system will be a shared responsibility, as SG Leads and AA Leads will have a significant role to play in implementing and sustaining the system in their respective results areas. The SPMEL Unit will be responsible for strategic level planning and monitoring, tracking higher level outcomes, and relevance to high level impact areas and SDGs. The unit will also ensure that key learnings are integrated into strategic planning processes both at institutional and portfolio levels.

3.1.2. Quality assurance and research ethics

As a knowledge centre, we need to assure our stakeholders that the quality of our knowledge processes and products meets the highest ethical and technical standards.

In the past, most of the quality review work has been located within our Publications and Outreach (POUT) Committee. In MTAP V, we will build on this to introduce systems to incorporate quality, relevance, and ethics throughout our work. These will be efficient and succinct to encourage compliance.

3.1.3. Partnerships

We will continue to build effective strategic partnerships and alliances. However, to meet the Strategy 2030 ambitions a significant revamp of our partnership approach is required – moving from transactional to more transformational partnerships – that deliver results at scale that in turn deliver systemic change.

These crucial changes will require us to conduct an in-depth review of our partnership strategies, policies, standards, and processes. It will also require us to readjust roles and responsibilities, where the accountability for the creation, management and enhancement of partnerships will fall to staff within the SGs and AAs, supported by a robust coordination and administration function.

3.1.4. Business development and resource mobilisation

our business development and resource mobilisation (BDRM) function, we will make dedicated efforts to amplify our RM endeavours to maintain our current level of funding and attract new funding for both the organisation and the RMCs. To achieve this, we will professionalise the BDRM functions by strategically setting up effective and efficient policies and processes, building capacity internally and with critical stakeholders, involving our current and new donors in mobilisation planning, and prioritising efforts in attracting funding via a centrally managed collaborative approach.

The scope of these BDRM functions will range from strategic to operational, and will consist of setting the BDRM strategies, plans and processes, and identifying the most appropriate coordination mechanisms. It will include managing relationships with funders, RMCs and their key stakeholders, the private sector, and other key strategic international partners. Joint coordination of institutional-level communication and advocacy to raise our profile will be crucial. Finally, through the BDRM function, we will also assess the feasibility of innovative financial instruments.

3.1.5. Communications, engagement, and outreach

Effective communication, engagement and outreach are pivotal for delivering our results, raising our institutional profile, deepening global and regional partnerships, strengthening resource mobilisation, and engaging with and persuading stakeholders of the importance of the issues we work on. To achieve this, we must elevate our communication, engagement, and outreach practices, including employing state-of-the-art targeted science communication approaches, tools, and platforms to reach the target audiences with the right information at the right time. We also need to focus on both the “push” of promoting our findings, and the “pull” of responding to developments in the discourses where we should be present.

We plan fundamental changes on how we approach communications, including significantly improving our outreach, production, and engagement skills, whilst also continuing to invest in improving central communications elements such as publications production and promotion, media and social media engagement, website management, branding and event management. Furthermore, we will dedicate efforts to improve our internal communication to ensure an effective flow of information between the teams and colleagues, including supporting the change management processes.

3.1.6. Knowledge management

Our success as a knowledge centre and an innovation hub pivot on our ability to manage knowledge effectively, thus the knowledge management function must provide service to all other institutional functions, SGs and AAs. Across the institution, internal and externally facing communication and information sharing platforms must be integrated, allowing for the maximum transparency and efficiency of all business processes and accessibility of data and information. We have modernised our existing systems and processes but to more effectively allow us to uphold our core values of efficiency and transparency, we must make further advancements.

This workstream includes functions such as an overarching process classification framework; documentation of workflow processes; archiving and document management; data and digital repository (library) management; contact management; event mapping; and internal and external knowledge sharing.

3.1.7. Project management practices and capabilities

Projects are one of the main operational engagements that contribute to the AA results. We recognise that how we manage the cluster of programmatic, administrative, and financial demands of these projects can make or break a project. Ineffective implementation may negatively affect our ability to implement our Strategy 2030, credibility with our partners and funders, and overall bottom line. Additionally, with the trend for larger, competitive, and funder-restricted projects, we need to position ourselves for successful delivery of such projects.

It is, therefore, crucial that we set up the SGs and other institutional functions (e.g. BDRM, Communications, Partnerships, Finance and Administration) with the necessary common tools for effective and efficient management of projects based on international standards. We will also require standard operating processes with clear roles and responsibilities, including appropriate delegation of authority, in line with our Results Framework and other policies (e.g. Environmental and Social Safeguards, Risk Management, Data Sharing).

3.1.8. Human resource management and organisational development

We commit to enhance our human resource management approach to make ICIMOD the employer of choice in the region. We will transform people management by modernising our policies and processes in a way that promotes accountability, efficiency, fairness, transparency, and integrity, and aligns with our core values and standards.

Furthermore, building on the unique value and strength of our diverse workforce, we will develop and strengthen a process to keep our staff skills updated in key areas. We will also strengthen our skills in the newer areas of climate finance, policy, economics, innovation, business and enterprise, results-based management and evaluation, scaling readiness, evidence review and synthesis methods, and social, behavioural and implementation science.

Finally, we will work to attract and retain talent, including women and others from marginalised groups, balancing the number of staff from across and outside the region to have a continuous inflow of diverse expertise and backgrounds. We will make important changes to our HR processes to create a vibrant work environment, which combines creativity with commitment and a healthy work-life balance, and we will build a work culture aligned with our core values.

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