More than 300 experts from 26 countries have come together in Kathmandu, Nepal to identify and recommend possible resilient solutions for mountain communities in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH).

The four-day conference, which began on December 4 at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, will also look at building blocks of reliance of solutions suitable for mountain context.

Themed ‘developing solutions towards a sustainable future for Asia’, the conference will also explore on developing solutions aligned with the small development goals for climate change and disaster risk reduction, investing in mountain livelihoods, and promote social and gender equity.

The conference will also raise awareness on resilience from a mountain perspective and foster partnership for action by linking to global processes and strengthening regional cooperation.

According to the organisers, climate change and other drivers of change in the HKH have already begun to impact ecosystems and communities leading to increased vulnerability and exposure to disasters such as flood, drought, and landslides.

Representatives from all eight countries of the HKH, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan will present on sustaining mountain ecosystems and biodiversity, ensuring water security, supporting access to clean energy, ending mountain poverty, and building economic opportunity and investment.

About 20 Bhutanese delegates are attending the conference.

Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the inaugural on December 3 said that the HKH is home to many developing nations and it was imperative to take collective steps to alleviate the threats of climate change. “I expect the conference to deliberate these challenges.”

Discussing on the role of a resilient HKH in the future of sustainable Asia during a high-level leadership panel, ambassador and head of the European Union Delegation to Nepal, Veronica Cody, said collective action for regional cooperation is critical to address the effects of climate change.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji, said Bhutan’s economy is deeply interdependent and working together and supporting each other is important while elaborating on the country’s success of poverty alleviation and strategic plans being planned for climate change.

The HKH sources 10 major river systems in Asia that provide water, ecosystem services, and livelihoods to more than 210 million people.

Royal University of Bhutan’s director general of Department of Research and External Relations, Dr Phanchung, received the ICIMOD’s mountain chair title.

The ICIMOD mountain chair is an honorary 24-month long title to be conferred to a prominent scholar with an excellent track record and substantial experience on mountain issues in the HKH region. The title would promote inter-university cooperation to enhance institutional capacities.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Kathmandu