Conservation of Natural Resources in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region
Title: Conservation of Natural Resources through Policy Dialogues and Transboundary Agreements in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Overall term: 2018 to 2018
The extended Himalayan region is one of the world’s most important ecosystems. It provides the livelihoods of more than 210 million people. The region is the upper catchment area of large river systems, which supply water to nearly one fifth of the global population. The region’s ecosystems play an essential role in water storage and conservation of biodiversity. Climate change and increased pressure on usage contribute to the degradation of sensitive mountain ecosystems, particularly in the high mountains of the Himalayas. Parts of the region are still characterized by extreme poverty. Many areas are difficult to access and cut off from markets due to disputed borders, geopolitical conflicts and lack of infrastructure. Labour migration (mainly by men), rapid social transformation, climate change and increased pressure on usage of already degraded resources exacerbate the socio-economic situation. This particularly affects women in the region, who are often responsible for working with natural resources due to traditional and socio-cultural structures. Despite this responsibility, they are rarely involved in decisions about their distribution, usage and conservation.
The majority of development measures in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region concerning conservation of resources, biodiversity, and climate change are single-country programmes. Transboundary cooperative agreements are comparatively rare. Regional initiatives, such as the South Asian Regional Co-operation Council (SAARC) supporting regional integration, have for many years been overshadowed by bilateral conflicts between its member countries.
In 1983, the eight states of the HKH region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan) founded ICIMOD as a platform for regional cooperation. International aid to ICIMOD is split between contributions from the eight Regional Member Countries (RMC) and technical and financial support from international development partners.
ICIMOD’s Medium-term Action Plan IV (2018-2022) (MTAP-IV) lists the priorities and objectives for joint work with the partner countries in the coming five years. Its member countries have increasingly involved ICIMOD in national policy-making processes. The Transboundary Landscape Initiatives programme proved that national implementation partners in member countries actively demand transboundary cooperation, but that capabilities for sustainable implementation are weak.
The core problem is that the policy dialogues of ICIMOD and its cooperation partners regarding national and international agreements on climate change adaptation, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation are too weak to cope with the complex challenges in this geopolitically tense region.
Strengthening policy dialogues of ICIMOD and its cooperation partners regarding national and international agreements on climate change adaptation, natural resource management and conservation of biodiversity with consideration of gender aspects.
The project aims to analyse existing cooperation mechanisms in the HKH region alongside worldwide best practices, and to elaborate a joint roadmap for transboundary cooperation in the HKH.
Systematic analyses of lessons learnt about transboundary cooperation mechanisms are an essential precondition to achieve this aim. Improved access to information about transboundary implications referring to conservation and sustainable usage of natural resources and adaptation to climate change in the HKH region is crucial. ICIMOD’s Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) initiated a comprehensive survey on social, economic and ecological developments, its drivers of change and their impacts on the HKH.
The results of HIMAP, as well as the lessons learnt from the TBL programme and their recommendations will complement the analysis of existing governmental plans, strategies and programmes.
The project supports development of preconditions to implement regional cooperation mechanisms for the conservation and usage of natural resources, as well as adaptation to climate change.
The project will result in strengthened capacities of the actors. This will enable them to expand the existing transboundary cooperation mechanism, based on best practices for selected issues (e.g. in the areas of environment and resource usage or tourism) to a larger scale. Topics like gender and social inclusion play an important role, which is reflected through the implementation of the ICIMOD gender action plan.
The project’s technical support will engage national decision makers about the results and recommendations of HIMAP and TBL. This will enable them to use this knowledge in the formulation of strategies, policies, and the elaboration of priority lists.
Overall, the results of improved transboundary dialogue will contribute to the implementation of the sustainable development goals, namely goal 13 (climate action), goal 17 (partnerships for the goals) and goal 5 (gender equality) due to the gender-sensitive approach.