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Bandana Shakya

Agro-biodiversity Specialist, Ecosystem Services

My role at ICIMOD

As ICIMOD’s Agrobiodiversity Specialist, I strengthen knowledge related to mountain agro-biodiversity along a sustainability dimension. Additionally, being associated with the Landscape Initiative for Far-eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE), I execute programmatic elements in Myanmar in collaboration with government, development, and community partners. I also promote regional cooperation among countries for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development between China, India and Myanmar. This involves co-designing regional-scale science and policy enabling events and discourses. I am also a focal person for the open access data repository Global Biodiversity Information Facility through which I support publication of biodiversity data and information for the HKH region.

Bandana Shakya

Q:

How do you protect the pulse of the planet?

A:

My contribution to protecting the pulse is through promoting sustainability of mountain agricultural systems in the HKH region, and contributing to the causes of food system improvement, agrobiodiversity conservation, and nutrition security. I discuss prospects and priorities of mountain agricultural systems with communities on the ground so that I can contribute to developing knowledge that serves their aspirations, especially those of younger generations. That then helps government partners to co-design appropriate programmatic and policy interventions that makes mountain agricultural system an ecologically, economically and socio-culturally vibrant resource base.

Q:

What is your favorite part of the work you do at ICIMOD?

A:

I’ve enjoyed my entire professional journey at ICIMOD. What I most value at ICIMOD is its regional element that lets you work within interfaces. You can be with the community co-implementing programmes on one day, and on the next day be with decision makers and global experts at multilateral conventions. You can interact with experts in the eight regional member countries, and those beyond. I feel that women, especially mothers, often have to limit themselves. But for me, ICIMOD has been an institution where I could diversify my skillset, taking up different responsibilities over the years, and work with colleagues of different personalities and passions. I believe that I have grown at ICIMOD meaningfully, and in all capacities, and I’ve been in a position to make a difference for mountains and people.

Q:

What are you passionate about?

A:

I am passionate about learning and will always remain so. But, for me, learning is a mututal process; when you learn from someone or something, you must also give back. This, I believe, helps us all to innovate and enrich the process of collective learning, which itself is a process of learning, unlearning, and relearning.

Q:

My qualifications

A:

I have a Ph.D in Mountain Agriculture from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Kunming Institute of Botany. My Ph.D research looked at sustainability dimensions of mountain agricultural systems. through a transdisciplinarity lens. I completed an MS from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland where I took up courses on conservation biology, taxonomy of plants, and molecular systematics, also acquiring biodiversity conservation field experiences in Belize, South America. I also completed an MSc in Botany from Tribhuvan University, Nepal where I undertook courses on ecology, physiology, genetics, and systematics.
With ICIMOD, I have practical field experiences from Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Myanmar, especially on application of the landscape approach to natural resource governance and management and integrated conservation and development. In ICIMOD, I’ve worked in different departments in different capacities, and thus have had opportunities to engage with partners across a wide range of thematic topics such as biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, protected area management, landscape governance, corridors and connectivity, sustainable livelihoods and value chain development, mountain agriculture, community based tourism, agrobiodiversity management, and food and nutrition security; and to facilitate events that brought partners together to deliberate on these discourses.
In the coming years, I will be focusing on strengthening social learning processes, ensuring that more scientific evidence translates into knowledge that helps communities to be more aware of their own strengths and their needs; and decision makers to be more aware of the their decisions and programmatic interventions.