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The HKH is undergoing significant changes. Recognizing these changes and building resilience is key to safeguarding livelihoods in rural mountain communities. “A 1.5 degree Celsius world is imminent. Adaptation will not be enough, so we need to move toward resilience building,” remarked Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD, during the opening of the regional-level inception workshop of the Resilient Mountain Solutions (RMS) initiative in Kathmandu in December 2018. “Research and policies are not useful unless they are solutions-based and lead to transformative change on the ground,” he said. Sharma was addressing a gathering of 50-plus participants representing governments, research institutions, civil society groups, and the private sector from Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, who had assembled at the ICIMOD headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal to agree on a shared vision for RMS and to develop regional and country-specific engagement plans for the initiative in the three countries.
One year in the running, the RMS initiative, which evolved out of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP) of ICIMOD, aims to promote and scale up simple, affordable, and replicable solutions for adaptation and resilience building among vulnerable communities and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region.
Clarifying the centerpiece of the RMS strategy, Nand Kishor Agrawal, Programme Coordinator for RMS at ICIMOD, said, “We want to take climate-resilient solutions beyond pilot sites, and position RMS as a global brand for adaptation solutions in the HKH.”
Arabindra Mishra, Theme Leader, Livelihoods at ICIMOD, elaborated on the concept of ‘resilience’ and suggested approaches to resilience building. Farid Ahmad, Head of the Strategy, Planning, Management and Evaluation Unit at ICIMOD, provided an overview of the Theory of Change and Impact Pathways for the RMS initiative to prepare the workshop participants for the group planning sessions to follow.
Over the next two and a half days, the participants – divided into three country groups – developed draft country-specific engagement plans, with clear strategies, activities, deliverables, timelines, and partners’ roles and responsibilities for Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal for the period 2019–to 2021, which they then presented at the plenary for feedback.
The participants, in mixed groups, also discussed cross-cutting themes such as communication and outreach, monitoring and evaluation framework, and gender equity and social inclusion, including ways to integrate these in RMS.
Resource persons from the Strategic Cooperation Unit at ICIMOD presented on the partnership process for RMS and facilitated parallel group sessions on private sector engagement in RMS activities. They emphasized that private sector engagement is crucial for the success of RMS, as private actors such as financial institutions and information and communication technology (ICT) companies (app developers, for instance) can bring in innovations and investments.
The RMS country-coordinators plan to conduct country consultations in Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal next to finalize the selection of country partners and country-specific engagement plans for implementation.
Currently RMS strategies for country-specific engagements are geared towards:
RMS has been designed to contribute to the global sustainable development and climate agenda, including poverty reduction. It will also serve as a regional voice for advocacy of resilient mountain development of the HKH as a global asset at international fora and platforms.
In her closing remarks at the plenary, Nanki Kaur, Regional Programme Manager, Adaptation and Resilience Building, ICIMOD, redefined RMS as a facilitator for the uptake of resilience building solutions.
“RMS will provide a regional platform to incubate and accelerate innovative solutions to contribute to the resilience of women, men, and youth in the HKH region,” she said. “It will generate new knowledge and strengthen institutions to enable communities, public and private actors, and financial institutions to design and invest in these solutions.”
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