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Basanta Raj Shrestha

Director Strategic Cooperation , Directorate

My role at ICIMOD

As our Director of Strategic Cooperation, I hold a key portfolio focused on strategic management and partnership development, providing strategic inputs and facilitating new programme development for the growth of the institution. Significant aspects of my role include providing guidance and mentoring to colleagues in strengthening regional member country engagement, proactive engagement with the private sector and developing strategic cooperation with international agencies. I lead and facilitate our work within strategic alliances including with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) / the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund (AF) for climate financing and have introduced an innovative partnership approach, embedding its principles across the institution which has enabled us to serve better our constituencies and bring about efficient and effective programme implementation. I played a guiding role in developing and continue to oversee our Partnership Relationship Management platform, which is an internal business intelligence system to support strategic decision-making and operational planning.

I lead a dynamic team which manages a vast network of partners including all of the paperwork and workflow associated with the partnership instruments, but more importantly all of the individual partner relationships which are essentially important to us to acieve shared vision and goal. Together, we regularly organize major regional and international events, including high level ministerial forums, capacity building events and youth forums drawing regional and global participants and eminent personalities from around the globe on key issues of concern.

I also frequently represent the institution delivering speeches and keynote addresses at international events, which has allowed me the privilege of extensive travel across about 40 plus countries around the world, serving on steering committees of global networks such as the Mountain Partnership hosted at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , and acting as focal point for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at ICIMOD.

Recognizing the essential importance of our work with our broad range of partners, we formalized many of our practices through a partnership strategy and guidelines developed in 2014. Since that time, we have continuously sought to nurture and improve our partner relationships, and we established our Strategic Cooperation Unit (SCU) specifically to focus on that aspect of our external relations. Our main focus areas of work involve partnership development and management – with 300 plus organizations from government, non-government, research and academia, community based organizations including the private sector and regional and international agencies.

Basanta Raj Shrestha

Q:

How do you protect the pulse of the planet?

A:

I protect the pulse of the planet through stewardship of our effective partnering with a diverse network of partners from the region and beyond. With these partners, we’re able to facilitate integrated and innovative solutions for enhanced understanding of mountain ecosystems, thereby enabling actions on the ground.

Q:

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

A:

There is so much that I love about ICIMOD: working with diverse topics, cultures and amazing people from the region and beyond; being able to travel to our regional member countries and remote mountain locations; having friends and networks with individuals and organizations at multiple levels; witnessing how ICIMOD has grown leaps and bounds and being a part of it; and being able to work with youth and mentor the next generation of mountain leaders.

Q:

What are you passionate about?

A:

I am passionate about spiritual values, local culture, green technology and sustainable living, travelling to the Himalayan landscape and sustainable development issues in mountain areas, and networking and meeting people from diverse backgrounds.

Q:

My qualifications

A:

My own professional history is deeply intertwined with ICIMOD’s since I joined ICIMOD in 1990, just a few years after operations started in 1984. In that sense, I’ve had the great privilege to work with inspiring colleagues and partners; to envision, create and implement new programmes; to strategize our work for effective impact; and to focus on networking, honing our unique partnership approach, and ensuring that our work within this region resonates across the globe through our networks and strategic alliances.

I was a founder member of the Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information System (MENRIS) programme, which over the years, has come to be widely respected for its pioneering efforts in promoting the use of earth observation and geospatial technologies for sustainable mountain development. An important aspect of that work has been a comprehensive capacity building programme spread across all of our RMCs, which now can boast more than 4000 alumni. I also championed successful partnerships with NASA and USAID to spearhead our SERVIR-HKH work – a flagship initiative bringing technology and innovation to beaar on our HKH mountain development challenges; successfully developed numerous programmes aligning with global initiatives such as GEO, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), FAO, International Charter: Space and Major Disasters and others; and facilitated fruitful partnerships with regional space agencies including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and private sector partnerships in the geospatial industry – notably with Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc (ESRI), and Geospatial Media and Communications.

I have mobilized resources and planned, managed and implemented a number of projects and programmes with international agencies, UN organizations – UNEP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), and development organizations – USAID, the Italian Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), The Netherlands’ Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), the German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and  multilateral donor agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and The World Bank.

I’ve published on issues related to integrated development planning, impact of climate change in the Himalayan region, census mapping and indicators, glaciers environment monitoring, information and knowledge management, decision support systems, environment assessment and natural resources management, as well as a Himalayan atlas and an hydrological atlas.

I have also served as a key proponent in promoting the mountain agenda in the global and regional forums and was granted a Presidential Award (2001), Special Achievement Award (2014), and a Humanitarian GIS Award (2015) by ESRI, USA. These awards were given for leadership and in recognition of ICIMOD’s contributions towards promotion of GIS technology and applications in the Himalayan region.

In response to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, I led a major effort for earthquake disaster response and recovery to support the Government of Nepal, was instrumental in developing an earthquake disaster web portal, and conceptualized and implemented a pilot demonstration project on earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation in Dhungentar, Nuwakot to support marginalized communities there.

In my early days of ICIMOD, I was an architect of our mountain geoportal and was instrumental in managing our overall IT infrastructure to maintain its growth and adaptation to ever-changing technology, establishing the first corporate internet infrastructure in Nepal at ICIMOD and the development of the first CD-ROM in Nepal to include all of ICIMOD publications then, on one single media.

My educational background includes an MEng degree in Computer Science from the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and a BEng degree in Electrical Engineering and Electronics from the Regional Engineering College, Trichurapalli, of Madras University, India.