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The promise of new beginnings

Pema Gyamtsho

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I’d like to extend my warmest wishes to all our friends for this New Year, which I hope will bring good health, good work, and prosperity! We’ve been thinking a lot about prosperity for the HKH region as we’re fully engaged in a strategy development process that will help us define our next planning period from 2023 to 2030 and help us as an institution focus on where we can have the greatest impact. Given that the UN has declared 2022 the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, this is the perfect time to gear up for accelerated action for mountains and people!

Although the pandemic continues to hit our region hard, we have taken lessons from the past two years and continue to focus on what is possible. At the end of the last year and into this new year, we were fortunate to capitalize on a small window of opportunity to have in-person meetings in Pakistan: the dialogue on policy opportunities, synergies, and alternatives in Gilgit-Baltistan; the meeting of the Pakistan Chapter of our Indus Basin Network; and a consultation meeting on understanding the WEFE nexus approach from river basin and transboundary landscape perspectives. We have strong partners in the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), and WWF-Pakistan and are looking forward to together implementing the action plans from these events.

Our work in reducing air pollution through a focus on brick kilns in the region continues apace and to further that work in Nepal we partnered with the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries (FNBI), MinErgy Pvt. Ltd., and the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) to develop Nepal’s first vocational education curriculum for brick fire masters. To focus on the critical issue of clean air, we are also gearing up for a major event on Two Punjabs, One Atmosphere.

Water is another of our key focus areas, and our Deputy Director General Izabella Koziell started the year off on a good note when she presented on “Transborder Collaboration: Women and High Mountain Water” at the Global Water Futures programme’s Women and Water Lecture Series. She discussed the many ways in which gender and social inclusion are essentially important considerations for effective water management and highlighted our ongoing work with climate services, community-based flood warning systems, and in reviving drying springs across the region. Keeping a clear focus on gender issues across our work areas, we also made public results of a study we undertook with Lanzhou University and Yunnan Normal University focusing on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on women entrepreneurs in the border areas of China and Myanmar.

We continue to get a lot of downloads on the report “Leveraging the World Heritage Convention for conservation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: An independent assessment of natural World Heritage potential”, on which we had partnered with IUCN World Heritage Programme, IUCN-WCPA, and Wild Heritage. This publication is an important milestone on the path towards recognizing the HKH’s global significance under the World Heritage Convention given that it details potential inscription of new natural World Heritage sites and possible extensions of existing sites.

If you are yearning for something interesting, do check out our new HKH theme song and video, or consider downloading the exquisite Primates of the Far Eastern Himalaya photo book or the informative books on Climate change and community resilience: Insights from South Asia and Earth observation science and applications for risk reduction and enhanced resilience in Hindu Kush Himalaya region: A decade of experience from SERVIR, or consider submitting an abstract for the International Mountain Conference 2022 scheduled for September 11−15!

Warm regards,


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