Building Resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region

UNDP – ICIMOD Partnership

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.




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