UNDP – ICIMOD Partnership
Building Resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region
November 28, 2023
We are faced with the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution. The magnitude of development challenges in the nature, climate and energy sphere requires coordinated efforts to deliver integrated solutions in collaboration with various partners, as no single entity can achieve these goals alone.
The key development challenges facing the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region include:
- Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems functions: The HKH is a biodiversity hotspot, with 4 (out of 36) global biodiversity hotspots; the Himalayas are the source of 10 major river systems. However, the ecosystem services and biodiversity in HKH have been undergoing rapid change and are under significant threat mainly due to land use and land cover change, and climate change.
- Vulnerability to climate change impacts: The HKH region is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. Wide-ranging threats are already impacting ecosystems and millions of people living in the region and downstream. For poor and marginalized groups, deep and pervasive structural inequalities make climate change adaptation even more difficult.
- Water resources: The HKH is known as a ‘water tower’ and is the source of the region’s rivers. Significant climatic conditions shifts may also affect social and economic systems in the region through changes in demand, supply, and water quality.
- Unsustainable livelihood practices: The HKH region is additionally vulnerable due to high poverty rates, gender disparities, food insecurity caused by low agricultural productivity, hunger and displacement, reliance on livestock, high dependence on natural resources (60-85% subsist on ecosystem services), and large youth and women populations requiring diversified employment opportunities.
To address these development challenges, UNDP and ICIMOD have mutually agreed – signing a MoU in June 2022 - to cooperate on long-term impact areas for the HKH, including on: : transboundary climate risk reduction and adaptation; biodiversity and environmental health; green mountain economies; knowledge development; and digital technology and innovation.
The regional cooperation between UNDP and ICIMOD will harness the collective strengths of HKH countries to enhance regional and international cooperation to address regional and transboundary issues that are largely environmental in nature, and which have major socio-economic implications for millions of people. The partnership between UNDP and ICIMOD covers eight countries of the HKH: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Inventory of glacial laked and identification of potentially dangerous glacial lakes in Koshi, Gandaki, and Karnali river basins of nepal, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and India
Glaciers in the Himalaya have been melting at an unprecedented rate since the mid-20th century, impacting flow regimes in major associated river basins. The resultant formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing glacial lakes increase glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) risks. The present report provides an update on the status and changes in the number and area of glacial lakes in the Koshi, Gandaki, and Karnali river basins, along with a detailed methodology for the identification of critical glacial lakes in remote and inaccessible mountain terrain using remote sensing tools and technologies. Based on the information made available, hazard assessment and mitigation work could be implemented to secure the lives and livelihoods of mountain and downstream communities. This report from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the United National Development Programme (UNDP) in Nepal has identified 47 potentially dangerous glacial lakes (PDGLs) within the Koshi, Gandaki, and Karnali river basins of Nepal, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, and India. These glacial lakes are at risk of breaching, which would result in glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). GLOFs are a prominent water-induced hazard in Nepal and other mountainous countries in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), and occur when melting glaciers create reservoirs of water that can suddenly burst leading to floods downstream.