Upper Indus Basin (UIB) Network is an informal knowledge and research network of national and international researchers working in the upper part of the Indus Basin. It aims to foster coordination researches in climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and vulnerability, and adaptation related issues. The members are from national departments, organizations, universities from Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, and Kathmandu-based regional knowledge centre ICIMOD and other international partners.

The network was formed in 2012 through a UIB Monitoring Working Group (MWG) of national and international partners for “Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the UIB”.

The transboundary Indus River basin, shared by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, is ranked among the world’s most significant basins in terms of human dependency on its water resources and agricultural livelihoods. Home to nearly 215 million people, the basin has seven main rivers originating from glaciers and snowfields in the Western Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush, which are sources of irrigation for over 16 million hectares of agricultural land.

The upper Indus basin is composed of mountainous terrains of the Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges. The basin is already water scarce, yet the demand for water continues to grow rapidly putting further stress on the resource owing to rapidly changing demographics and climatic conditions. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problem. While there are more economic activities in the lower part of the basin, climate is likely the major driver of change in the upper high mountain affecting upstream and downstream populations.

Key Mission

Promote coordination and collaboration among organizations working in the upper Indus basin for improved understanding of present and future water availability, demand, and hazards, and to develop solutions for various stakeholders ranging from local to national levels.

The network collaborates with key national networks and forums such as the Indus Forum in Pakistan, which actively promotes in linking evidence-based research with national policy. It shares research findings with national policy makers through various platforms.

In the upper Indus basin, limited studies have been conducted on climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and adaptation. There is a gap on scientific knowledge sharing and coordination between the concerned institutions and professionals.

Ten Big questions to be addressed by UIB

Following are the 10 big questions to be addressed six technical working groups of UIB network.

  1. What were the climatic trends and variability in the basin in the past, and how will they be in the future?
  2. What is the state of various cryosphere components (glacier, snow, permafrost), how are they are changing with time, and how will they change in the future under climate change?
  3. How can the present observation system be strengthened to support previous questions?
  4. How to enhance the effectiveness of data collection, quality control and dissemination at national and regional levels?
  5. How will climate change and cryosphere dynamics impact the water availability in the future?
  6. What will be the water demand scenario of the future?
  7. How can the supply-demand gaps be addressed?
  8. What are the most suitable and sustainable development options for the upstream part of the basin?
  9. What are the natural hazard hotspots and how is the vulnerability changing?
  10. What could be the impact of cryospheric changes on ecosystem?

Contact person

Arun Bhakta Shrestha

Arun Bhakta Shrestha

Regional Progamme Manager, River Basins & Cryosphere