Mountain GeoPortal

Capacity Building

Innovative and integrated geo-based solutions to support informed decision-making for mountain development policies and practices.


Youth Forum

Climate change has been the defining environmental issue of our times affecting every segment of society in one way or the other. Climate change has put the Himalayan region in center of the international attention – as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world severely impacting its social and environmental security.

Climate change is one of the most critical global concerns of this generation where the youth of the region will face enormous challenges in future. It is therefore important to bring about awareness among youth and actively engage them in areas of preparedness, risk reduction, adaptation and mitigation. Youths have innovative ideas, knowledge and abundant energy to undertake local actions. Youth can play “agent for change” and act as effective communicators in their communities and be involved in regional and international arenas.

In this regard, Earth Observation has proved to be a vital tool to improve our understanding of the climate change phenomenon by providing information on the changes on various attributes which are indicators to climate change. Henceforth, ICIMOD is implementing the SERVIR-Himalaya programme supported by NASA and USAID with an overarching goal to improve environmental management and resilience to climate change. The SERVIR-Himalaya science applications include the areas of cryosphere and water, ecosystems and biodiversity, agriculture and food security, disaster risk reduction and air quality monitoring. Information derived from earth observation helps visualizing the impact of climate change and take appropriate actions. The SERVIR-Himalaya programme is putting increasing emphasis on education and exposure of innovative tools and technologies to youth that will enable rapid response on issues related to climate change in the Himalayan region.

The aim of youth forums is to raise awareness among young people, and help them understand climate change and take appropriate actions in their local communities.

Youth forums have been organized in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

NASA Develop

ICIMOD participates through SERVIR Himalaya in the NASA DEVELOP programme, giving the opportunity of interns throughout the HKH region to do applied research on environmental topics using Earth Observation and to collaborate with NASA. DEVELOP is unique in that young professionals lead research projects that focus on utilizing NASA Earth observations to address community concerns and public policy issues. With the competitive nature and growing societal role of science and technology in today’s global workplace, DEVELOP is fostering an adept corps of tomorrow’s scientists and leaders.

DEVELOP bridges the gap between NASA Earth Science and society, building capacity in both participants and partner organizations to better prepare them to handle the challenges that face our society and future generations.

Within the NASA-SERVIR Himalaya project, since October 2012 we are participating in the NASA-SERVIR-DEVELOP partnership.

ICIMOD hosts the NASA – SERVIR Himalaya internship program and has so far participated in three terms. During these ten week terms, interns produce a technical report, poster, brochure and a video on a Research topic related to Agriculture, Climate, Disasters, Ecological Forecasting, Energy, Health and Air Quality, Oceans, Water Resources or Weather. The work is done working in a team with multiple locations, typically representing one or two of ICIMOD member countries and the US.

In this context, three students: Laxmi Thapa, Florencia Matina Tuladhar and Eliza Shrestha from Kathmandu University started as the first batch of DEVELOP interns in Fall 2012. Their topic of research was the development of a Climate Change vulnerability index, using socio-economic, bio-physical and satellite derived data. For this research, they were receiving guidance form resource persons from the Marshall Space Flight Center / National Space Science and Technology Center in Alabama, as well as from advisors of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC) and the University of Georgia.

Their effort was very successful as their video was awarded with the “grand prize” in the Earthzine fall virtual poster session. For the video please see:

During the term organized in Spring 2013 (March-April-May), the same three interns: Laxmi Thapa, Florencia Tuladhar and Eliza Shrestha participated with different intern-colleagues based in the US. Their work was building upon the initial term on the climate change vulnerability index for NepalNepal that included NDVI imagery analysis for vegetation greenness and vulnerability prediction for the 2050s. Also, satellite rainfall estimation was compared with ground based measurements to find their level of correlation. The Spring 2013 term video was awarded with the runner up position in the Earthzine competition. Please see: Developing a Climate Change Vulnerability Index for Nepal Using NASA EOS Data.

In June 2013, we started the third DEVELOP internship term, with two interns from Bangladesh, Ms. Labiba Farhana and Mr. Shishir Sarker, and two interns from Nepal, Ms. Rukumani Rimal and Mr. Nabin Paudel. From the United States we have participation and guidance from the Marshall Space Flight Center / National Space Science and Technology Center in Alabama. Also, from the DEVELOP head office in Washington DC the interns can consult their NASA-DEVELOP Science advisor, Dr. Kent Ross. The topic of research is related to Protected Area management in Bangladesh, making use of Earth Observation and geospatial tools.


NASA Space App Challenge

MyCOE/SERVIR Partnership

The MyCOE / SERVIR Partnership project supports local, long term capacity building to use geography and geographic technologies for sustainable development initiatives and facilitates ways in which existing geographic data and tools may be applied to critical regional needs across developing regions of the world. It seeks to strengthen the linkages among MyCOE, the SERVIR system and user communities.

The Association of American Geographers, serving as secretariat for the MyCOE Program, has formed a partnership with the SERVIR program to help university students living and studying in developing regions conduct long-term research or educational activities in response to sustainable development needs in their countries.

MyCOE-Himalaya Workshop and Student Research Support

The MyCOE (My Community – Our Earth) / SERVIR Initiative in the Himalayas is a 10-month fellowship program for undergraduate and graduate students in eligible countries in the Himalayas who have ideas and plans for research that addresses themes of Climate Change in Mountain Area Regions using geographic technologies. Students have been invited to propose a research project and have been competitively selected on the basis of their long-term potential to contribute to these topics in the region.

A capacity building and GIS training workshop was held at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Kathmandu, Nepal, on February 18-26, 2013. Selected fellows and their mentors from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan participated in this workshop.

The MyCOE / SERVIR program has provided selected students with customized training in GIS, remote sensing, GPS, and/or spatial techniques to help them enrich their research. More so, the students received guidance in writing a research proposal and improving presentation skills. They also have access to additional guidance by international experts and engage in an online community with other fellows.

Topics of research include (among others):

  • Glacier response to climate change in India and Nepal
  • Assessment of water resources in the Koshi basin
  • Modeling snow and glacier melt runoff and climate change impacts in the Koshi basin
  • Vulnerability assessment for potential Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods in Pakistan
  • A village level case study in Eastern Bhutan on adaptation strategies comparing traditional beliefs with scientific knowledge
  • Assessing land cover changes in hilly regions in Bangladesh and implications for climate change adaptation


Supporting agencies


Servir Global






Workshop feedback by Participants

About the workshop by Dr Richard A. Marston, resource person Association of American Geographers (AAG)

About MyCOE by Carrie Stokes, Geographer and Director of the GeoCenter, USAID

About ICIMOD and Servir Himalaya by Basanta Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager, MENRIS