Incentivizing Mountain Communities for Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate


The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and partners will host a special session on incentivizing mountain communities for ecosystem services in the context of a changing climate at the International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihoods set to take place in Kathmandu from 10 to 12 January 2017.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), a global asset, is rich in cultural and biological diversity, and natural resources. It is also home to inaccessible, remote, and fragile regions where local populations live in poverty. Managing ecosystems in the region is challenging as local livelihoods depend heavily on natural ecosystems. The resilience of upstream ecosystems needs to be given special consideration in order to retain a sustainable supply of ecosystem services that people living in both upstream and downstream regions can avail of. This calls for innovative approaches to incentivizing upstream communities to conserve ecosystems as their livelihood subsistence options are limited to land use practices that affect both agriculture and forests. 

Payment for ecosystem services (PES), as described by Wunder et al (2005, 2008), is mostly based on market based solutions. However, in the mountains, especially in the HKH, pure market based solutions may not be effective. Arable land for use in commercial purposes is limited, and mountain people have a higher dependence on natural ecosystems than people living downstream do. Often, mountain areas are inaccessible, with limited transport and other infrastructure. Moreover, the changing climate brings additional challenges to mountain communities who already deal with low agricultural productivity. Therefore, a hybrid model based on the assessment  of rich ecosystem services considering both market and non-market instruments for potential PES schemes looks promising. This also means that payment may not be necessarily in cash, but in kind services in the form of development projects to incentivize upstream communities, and encourage their efforts towards managing upstream ecosystems. 

Alongside ICIMOD resource persons, researchers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India will be participating in the session. Discussions will take place around incentivizing mountain communities for their contributions to securing ecosystem services, with a particular focus on the HKH. The session organizers will request the researchers and policy makers in attendance to agree on possible modalities on an incentive based mechanism to retain a sustainable supply of ecosystem services in a changing climate. 

Session objectives: 

  • Interpret the general understanding of ecosystem services and their significance for the HKH
  • Deliberate on research-policy linkages to support incentives for ecosystem services
  • Develop a common framework for incentives for ecosystem services in the Himalaya 
Proposed Session Plan
Moderator: Laxmi Dutt Bhatta, ICIMOD
Session Chair: SP Garkoti, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India
Rapporteurs: Pratikshya Kandel and Sunita Ranabhat (ICIMOD) 

Time: 2 hours 




5 minutes

Session Chair: Prof S P Garkoti, JNU

Moderator to introduce session and session objectives

Moderator to invite and introduce session chair

30 minutes

Key note speech: Prof S P Singh, former VC- HNB University, India


Chair to invite key note speakers and session presenters

10 minutes

Technical presentation 1: Ecosystem services perspectives in ICIMOD’s transboundary landscapes

Dr Nakul Chettri, ICIMOD

10 minutes

Technical presentation 2. Ecological calendars: Enabling the participation of indigenous and civil society to cope with climate change in the Asian highlands

Prof Xu Jianchu, China

10 minutes

Technical presentation 3: Benefit sharing for ecosystem services with emphasis on poverty reduction

Dr Lungten Norbu, Bhutan

10 minutes

Technical presentation 4: Ensuring availability of drinking water to water users through payment for ecosystem services: A case study of the Baitadi Town Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Nepal

Dr Rajesh Kumar Rai, SANDEE, Nepal, and Mr Laxmi Dutt Bhatta, ICIMOD

10 minutes

Technical presentation 5: Ecosystem services perspectives in Bangladesh


Prof AKM Nazrul Islam, Bangladesh


30 minutes

Open discussion

Facilitated by moderator

5 minutes

Remarks from chair, and conclusion