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19 Oct 2022 | News

Kailash CAFE 2.0: Sharing knowledge of a sacred landscape

Srijana Joshi & Janita Gurung

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The Kailash Sacred Landscape region attracts researchers from various disciplines, which was evident in the variety of topics presented at the second iteration of the Kailash CAFE, conducted from 14–17 June 2022. The online event included presentations on environment, economy, climate, culture, forestry, and anthrozoology.

Kailash CAFE 2.0 was hosted by our Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI), in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, India; and Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology, Nepal. The event brought together more than 350 participants from the HKH and beyond, representing 28 countries and more than 200 institutions. It featured four keynote presentations, 13 oral presentations, and nine lightning (five-minute) presentations.


The Third Pole

The first day of Kailash CAFE focused on ‘the Third Pole environment’ and ‘landscape, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. The Third Pole is witnessing a rapid rate of warming, resulting in faster glacier melt and glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF). Shichang Kang, Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared his insights on linking atmospheric pollution to cryospheric change in the Third Pole region. He highlighted the alarming figures of biomass burning and fossil fuel that contribute to significant quantities of gaseous pollutants and aerosol particles in the atmosphere leading to accelerated glacier melting in the region. Nakul Chettri, Regional Programme Manager for ICIMOD’s Transboundary Landscapes Initiative, provided a strong foundation for using a landscape approach to achieving biodiversity conservation. The subsequent oral presentations highlighted the rich biocultural features and cultural ecosystem services of the Kailash Sacred Landscape.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted both global economies and human well-being. The second day of the CAFE focused on resilient livelihoods and post-pandemic recovery, where speakers shared their findings on the pandemic’s impact on various aspects of livelihoods, including tourism and the collection of the highly lucrative yartsa gunbu (Ophiocordyceps sinensis).


Tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the landscape.


Climate change and biocultural diversity

The third day of Kailash CAFE 2.0 focused on climate change and biocultural diversity. The keynote presentation from Uttam Babu Shrestha, Director, Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, featured the impacts of climate change on ecological processes, including phenology and distribution of native species, predator-prey habitats, invasive species, and medicinal plants in Nepal. He stated that while climate change is a global phenomenon, it is primarily the marginalised communities that face disproportionate challenges, especially regarding food security, hazards, and health risks. He also emphasised the need for more investments in research, data curation, and knowledge generation.

Word cloud of participant responses reflecting their biocultural diversity


Biocultural diversity is also one of the landscape’s unique features. This session included presentations on the traditional biocultural practices of the transboundary Rung Community and the indigenous system resource management system of the Limi Valley, Nepal. A unique comparative research on how horses and humans communicate and the cultural differences between the Limi Valley, Nepal, and Mendoza, Argentina, was also presented during this session. The presentations collectively emphasised the strong link between biodiversity and culture in the landscape and the important role this intangible heritage plays both in terms of livelihoods, as well as resource management.


The indigenous communities in the landscape follow unique biocultural practices.


The final day of the event focused on sustainable development in mountain landscapes. In her keynote presentation, Sarala Khaling, Regional Director, ATREE, shared a number of place-based solutions for biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalaya. Khaling emphasised that the challenge now is to scale these solutions to the regional level. The session also featured research findings on the challenges and opportunities faced by women involved in informal cross-border trade and spring restoration through sustainable land management in the mid hills of the landscape.


Word cloud of participant responses to the barriers for upscaling place-based approaches to biodiversity conservation.


Special sessions

Kailash CAFE 2.0 featured two special sessions – a lightning presentation session where researchers shared summaries of their research findings in five minutes or less and a session on communicating science. The lighting presentations covered diverse topics and included research in the landscape and beyond to learn about methodologies and best practices that could be applied within the landscape. The special session on communicating science started strong with a presentation on the cycle of communication and social media communication. The session was further enriched by Joydeep Gupta, South Asia Director of The Third Pole, who shared his insights on how scientists can better communicate their key messages to a targeted audience and result in policy changes.

Scientists use a range of tools to communicate their research findings


New learning

Kailash CAFE 2.0’s primary objective was to share knowledge from the landscape. The diverse presentations provided opportunities for new learning for many participants. Most importantly, it brought together researchers beyond the current partnership sphere of the KSLCDI. Kailash CAFE has become a valuable platform that facilitates knowledge sharing and learning.

The Kailash CAFE 2.0 provided new learnings to many participants.



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