Call to strengthen regional collaboration to support SDGs

Published On: June 21, 2016 09:52 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 20: Various experts have warned that unless governments in the Himalayan and its downstream region strengthen collaboration to address food, water and energy issues, the region is likely to face an unprecedented food crisis.

Addressing a two-day regional interaction on  ‘Knowledge Forum on Climate Resilient Development in the Himalayan and Downstream Regions’, held in Indian capital New Delhi on June 16-17, jointly organized by the India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), policy-makers, scientists and development practitioners from Himalayan and downstream countries -- mainly Bangladesh, China, India, and Nepal -- also said that achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require integrated solutions, efficient and sustainable use of land, water and ecosystems, strengthened linkages between communities in the upstream and downstream areas, and increased regional and sub-regional coordination and connectivity.

“During the whole SDG-making process, mountains were somehow left behind. The mountain countries need to develop their own targets and mechanism to address climate change and sustainable development,” Yuba Raj Khatiwada, vice chair of the National Planning Commission (NPC), is quoted in a statement issued by ICIMOD on Monday as saying at the meet. 

He said ICIMOD’s pilot project on climate smart villages had been adopted by the Nepali government and included in the national planning process. 

Over the two-day meet, the participants also shared innovative ideas to promote climate resilient development by addressing the food-water-energy nexus from a regional perspective.

“We need to work hard to make sure that mountain issues and their downstream linkages are reflected well in regional and global discussions,” David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, said. “We need new knowledge in this area to make sure that it guides the development of effective adaptation strategies in the region. This knowledge is critical for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

“Australia’s most important water basin -- the Murray-Darling -- has flourished due to strong knowledge and management support for two decades and Australia is ready to share its experience and expertise to take appropriate measures in three Himalayan basins -- the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra,” Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India, said. She added that for the countries, finding creative and innovative solutions were key to improving in food, water and energy security.
“Climate change is not uniform in the region and might be very diverse and the impact is more on low-income areas of all nations,” Manoj Panda, director of Institute of Economic Growth, India, said. 

“For sustainable development, inclusiveness is not enough,” Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, Bangladeshm, said. “We need equity and equitable development that lets all men, women and children benefit equally,” he said, adding that the region needs to build social capital at the institutional and individual level, locally, nationally and regionally.

Institutionalizing benefit-sharing Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is seen as a good initiative to forge the linkages between upstream Himalayan and downstream regions. The PES, also known as payments for environmental services, are incentives offered to communities in upstream catchment areas in the mountain region for their role in managing land, sources of water and ecosystem. Such a PES system is being institutionalized in Nepal’s Dhankuta district to promote the linkage between the Dhankuta town residents and the villagers of remote Nibuwa and Tankhuwa. 
The forum concluded with direction for appropriate policy and institutional options, and regulatory mechanisms to foster science-policy-practice interactions, and a conversation about how all countries in the region could work together through a meaningful collaboration on issues surrounding food, water and energy security issues.

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