Message from the Director General

World Environment Day 2016
Go wild for Life

5 June 2016

ICIMOD joins the world in celebrating World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June 2016. As we endeavour to put into practice the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, this year’s World Environment Day theme, ‘Go wild for life’, underlines that we need to renew our pledge to arrest the spread of wildlife crime and the damage that it does. We also need to challenge all those around us to do what they can to prevent wildlife crime from happening.

Mountains are high in biodiversity, and animals and plants know no borders. Our mountain landscapes have immense potential to create a basis for transnational cooperation by securing larger habitats through common conservation and development approaches. In other words, countries sharing landscapes need to work together to protect biodiversity and prevent wildlife crime. In this context, ICIMOD’s transboundary landscapes programme is a pioneering concept in bringing countries together. Transboundary landscapes provide an effective platform for understanding the combined challenges of ecosystem degradation and for dealing with other contemporary mountain issues, such as poverty and natural disasters, which are complicated by climate change impacts and changing habitats. Transboundary landscapes management can be leveraged to prevent wildlife crime. Landscapes such as Kanchenjunga (shared by Bhutan, India and Nepal), Kailash (shared by China, India and Nepal), Hindu Kush Karakoram-Pamir (shared by Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan), and the Far Eastern Himalayas (shared by China, India, and Myanmar) are all particularly rich in biodiversity. Countries that jointly manage these landscapes have common products, such as ‘environment monitoring frameworks’ and ‘harmonised vegetation maps’, which can be used with other geospatial data tools for long-term conservation and development. 

We also need to work with people on livelihood strategies, and at the same time on conservation – two goals that are difficult to achieve together. This will go a long way to preserving wildlife. In the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) context, due to increasing incidences of human-wildlife conflict, perhaps the largest challenge will be the growing indifference of the public to wildlife conservation and environmental issues, as crop and human losses take precedence. Of concern is also the ongoing expansion of rural and urban development, which is threatening bio-corridors. Therefore, we have at hand a complex set of challenges for wildlife conservation. We need to build on learning from transboundary cooperation to refine our existing approach to wildlife conservation to develop appropriate actions, delivery processes, tools, and incentives to tilt enabling conditions and strategies in favour of the sustainable management of wildlife on a large scale. 

Let us also remind ourselves that the first Aichi Target 2020 of the Convention on Biological Diversity is about people being made aware of the value of biodiversity and the steps we can take to conserve and use it sustainably. It is in this spirit I send this message and with you all make a pledge that in 2016, and thereafter, we will increase our understanding, awareness and appreciation of the diverse values of biodiversity. We will work towards improving knowledge and the collective willingness to undertake the behavioural changes required to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. To achieve this, we will focus on key audiences through targeted communication and education to raise public awareness across all levels of natural resource governance to reach policy makers and stakeholders who take decisions that matter for protecting our precious wildlife. I hope all mountain and HKH communities will join ICIMOD in making the above pledge a reality and fulfil our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 that we have set for ourselves to preserve our environment and biodiversity and strengthen the everlasting human resolve to protect the planet that sustains us. We owe it to ourselves, and to future generations. 

Wishing you all a happy World Environment Day.

David Molden, PhD
Director General, ICIMOD