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The Hindu Kush Himalaya is the pulse of the planet. Being at the top of the world, changes happen here before they happen anywhere else and the beat of this place vibrates across the globe. We are ICIMOD. Together with our partners, we protect the pulse.
As the tenure of Director General of ICIMOD shifts from one set of hands to another, we have written this piece together, as we reflect together on an historic milestone day for ICIMOD which took place on October 15th. Ministers from our eight HKH countries came together and signed a declaration agreeing to work together for mountains. That Ministerial Declaration recognizes and supports the HKH Call to Action, a biennial Ministerial Mountain Summit and regular Science Policy Forums to formulate evidence- based programmes and policies for sustainable mountain development. This will lay the foundation for much stronger collaboration between countries to address climate change and achieve the SDGs, and to jointly work on a call for action.
HKH Call to action
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in the HKH and compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities already impacted by climate change.
Check out the new edition of our SANDEE newsletter. Learn more about the latest research, publications, events and happenings in the SANDEE network.
SANDEE invites concept notes for research projects on environmental and resource economics relating to development in South Asia and the Hindu Kush Himalaya.
Deadline: 15 December 2020
Land cover data of Hindu Kush Himalayan region of Myanmar for 2010. This dataset is created using the LandSat 30 meter spatial resolution satellite image of 2010 and includes land cover information for Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states of Myanmar.
The stories in this annual report provide a summary of our accomplishments over the last year. They showcase key aspects of our work on multiple fronts – from working with communities, engaging policymakers, facilitating regional cooperation, promoting gender and social inclusion, and generating new knowledge and building capacity – to create positive change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in the HKH and compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities already impacted by climate change. However, it also presents an opportunity for concrete actions toward the transformation necessary for a more resilient and inclusive HKH. In this comprehensive policy paper, we assess the impacts of the pandemic, the risks and vulnerabilities, and provide policy responses and actions required for countries and more robust regional and international cooperation for the mountains.
This HKH Call to Action is based on the HKH Assessment, which 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 proposes actions towards a shared vision for the future of the HKH region, in which its societies and its people are prosperous, healthy, peaceful, and resilient in a healthy environment.
The red panda is a flagship species and a sensitive biodiversity indicator of ecological health across its range. This forest carbon stock assessment in red panda habitats in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Corridor in Eastern Nepal, part of the Kanchenjunga Landscape, suggests possibilities for forest cover enhancement and sustainable forest management practices.
Wild and non-cultivated edible plants (WNEPs) – collected from natural and semi-natural environments for the purpose of human consumption – have received little attention despite their significant contributions to the sustenance and livelihoods of mountain communities.
Anthropogenic and natural disturbances have impacted the health of freshwater ecosystems throughout the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Hydropower development has caused a decline in the connectivity and environmental flows (e-flows) of rivers. To minimize these impacts, the Government of Nepal recently endorsed the Hydropower Environmental Impact Assessment manual.
The health of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) – its cryosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere – serves as an indicator of the general health of the planet. In August 2019, ICIMOD, Kathmandu University, and the State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences organized the “International Forum on Cryosphere and Society in the HKH: The Voice of the HKH”.
Agriculture is crucial to life in mountain regions. Agricultural systems evolve and transform with people–nature interaction, and accordingly help biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation, and climate change adaptation. More than 70% of the rural population in the hills and mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region relies on agriculture.
Rasul, G (2020). ‘A Framework for Improving Policy Priorities in Managing Covid-19 Challenges in Developing Countries.’ In Frontiers in Public Health 8 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.589681.
The interconnected nature of the COVID-19 pandemic demands an integrated approach and coordinated action, which complicates decision making even more. We present a framework for identifying and prioritizing policy actions to address challenges and ensure sustainable recovery. The framework provides insights into developing shared policy goals, identifying smart strategies, assessing policy compatibility, aligning policy instruments, and factoring sustainability into policy decisions. This framework can assist policy makers in linking short and long-term goals, mapping the interactions of different policy options, and assessing anticipated consequences and cross-sectoral implications. This will enable policy makers to prioritize policy choices and efficiently allocate limited resources for greater synergy and co-benefits; multiplier effects; and interconnected solutions for health, the economy, and the environment.
Sharma, BP; Karky, BS; Nepal, M; Pattanayak, SK; Sills, EO; Shyamsundar, P (2020). ‘Making Incremental Progress: Impacts of a Redd+ Pilot Initiative in Nepal.’ In Environmental Research Letters 15: 105004 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aba924.
We present a quasi-experimental impact evaluation of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Nepal. We find little evidence of impacts on forest carbon in just two years. We find that REDD+ reduced forest disturbance as measured by four plot-level indicators (signs of forest fire, soil erosion, encroachment, and wildlife) that are predictive of future changes in net carbon emissions and reflective of reduced extraction pressure by households. While our analysis of household survey data does not show that REDD+ reduced harvest of forest products, we find some evidence that it reduced household dependence on firewood for cooking, possibly by increasing use of biogas. Thus, communities in Nepal appear to have improved conditions in their forests without undermining local benefits of those forests. To secure progress towards reduced emissions and improved livelihoods, interventions must be designed to effectively meet household energy needs.
Sharma, P; Chettri, N; Uddin, K; Wangchuk, K; Joshi, R; Tandin, T; Pandey, A; Gaira, K; Basnet, K; Wangdi, S; Dorji, T; Wangchuk, N; Chitale, VS; Uprety, Y; Sharma, E (2020). ‘Mapping Human‒Wildlife Conflict Hotspots in a Transboundary Landscape in the Eastern Himalaya.’ In Global Ecology and Conservation: e01284 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01284.
Human‒wildlife conflict (HWC) is a transboundary, multidimensional issue facing the Kangchenjunga Landscape, shared by Bhutan, India, and Nepal. We used maximum entropy along with relevant environmental predictor variables to model and map HWC hotspots. We find that about 19% of the landscape’s area is at high risk of HWC. Some protected areas are at higher risk than others. The Himalayan subtropical pine forest ecoregion is a high HWC zone (∼63%), followed by the Terai‒Duars savannah and grasslands ecoregion (∼43%). We also find that the low- and mid-elevation zones are prone to conflict because of greater forest fragmentation. Hence, a holistic approach at the landscape level is needed for tackling HWC. Connecting good habitats by restoring fragmented inter- and intra-country habitats would be an effective measure to mitigate HWC.
Thapa, A; Muhammad, S (2020). ‘Contemporary Snow Changes in the Karakoram Region Attributed to Improved Modis Data between 2003 and 2018.’ In Water 12: 2681.