Director General Remarks (All staff meeting)

(7 April  2017)

I am going to pay attention to spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.” - Anne Lamott

As spring promises new beginnings and brings the energy of fresh opportunity, so ICIMOD has used the early months of 2017 to prepare their long-term goals for serving mountains and people in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).

At an ICIMOD all-staff meeting last week, Director General David Molden reviewed two key institutional documents that have been collectively prepared over the past three months: the Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) and the Mid-Term Action Plan (MTAP). Each of these documents lays out collective vision and work plans that will guide ICIMOD initiatives for the next five years. Both have been forwarded to the ICIMOD board for review and evaluation in preparation for the annual meeting in May.

Molden first discussed the SRF, which in his words, “sets the overall direction of ICIMOD and what we hope to achieve, what marks us apart.” We are an organization focused on mountains and people, a regional organization with country ownership, strong partnerships, and policy engagement backed by science. What marks us apart, he said, is the institution’s commitment to its seven strategic goals, which, taken together, provide a foundation for ICIMOD’s vision of creating inclusive and sustainable development for people living in the HKH. Molden drew specific attention to ICIMOD’s goal of gender and inclusive development, which is a newly added goal. On the programmatic side, he noted the new Regional Programme, Mountain Knowledge and Action Networks which focuses on youth as agents of change for creating sustainable development. MKAN will include youth engagement, the Himalayan University Consortium, and the Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme, and there is a proposal to be discussed at the upcoming Board meeting to have SANDEE incorporated within ICIMOD as part of the MKAN Programme. Over the next five years, we will see a rising interest in the topics of climate services, disaster risk reduction, clean energy and youth engagement across programmes.

If the SRF sets ICIMOD’s vision, the Mid-Term Action Plan (MTAP) draws the road map for achieving that vision. Molden called this plan the “how” part of ICIMOD’s next five years. The MTAP – the fourth MTAP, in this case – is a five-year plan that provides exacting details to supporters and stakeholders about how ICIMOD works to foster regional cooperation and improve its ability to engage with policy and policy makers. Our success in that work, Molden said, depends on ICIMOD’s success on putting research into use to generate innovations and upscaling those innovations for wider and more robust application throughout our regional member countries.

The strength of the MTAP IV, Molden said, is the how the institution drew lessons from a reflective process that noted the successes and setbacks of the past five years. It was put together through a participatory effort across ICIMOD led by Dr Sharma and the drafts are available online (links below). In particular, Molden said, ICIMOD needed to put more thought into impact pathways to insure that people adapt and adopt ICIMOD innovations. Molden also said the institution had revisited the idea of trainings and capacity building. “We do lots of trainings at ICIMOD. But do we know if our partner institutions have the capacity use the trainings [we provide]. Do they use them?” Moreover, the MTAP document covers the “how to” of regional cooperation, policy engagement, gender transformative change, building socio-ecological resilience and more. “We need to position ourselves as a catalyst to generate knowledge,” Molden said, “and to put that knowledge into use: We are a knowledge for action institute, and we need to lift our research and piloting to have significance for policy and programmes in the region.

By answering these questions and building those answers into the MTAP IV, Molden said he was confident ICIMOD would continue its strong track record of success.

In closing, Molden reflected on meetings with the Swedish International Development Agency, at the Vatican, and at our own meetings on human well-being and for International Women’s Day. He said the MTAP IV comes as a key moment in global environmental awareness as more and more institutions are encouraging a philosophical inquiry about human rights to natural resources like water as well as larger questions about happiness, peace and harmony among people and countries. 

In other ICIMOD news, the annual board meeting has been scheduled for 9-11 May in Kathmandu, and ICIMOD will host a Resilience Conference in December 2017, for which planning is already underway.

He urged staff to watch the way we communicate, especially in emails. Remember to listen and to have empathy.

All employees were encouraged to take advantage of a preventive health screen being offered to all ICIMOD employees at Norvic hospital.

Construction on the new ICIMOD building continues in full swing as the basement is now complete and work began on the first floor this week. When complete, the new building and current HQ will be re-landscaped with greenery and pedestrian-friendly walkways. 

ICIMOD recently introduced a new stores shop on the grounds that will improve our efficiency and the availability of goods. 

A drinking water treatment plant is under construction on campus. This will do away with the need to buy water from an outside vendor. Currently ICIMOD pays $7,500 annually for drinking water.

The results of the 2016 were released and include the following highlights: 

  • The overall expenditure for 2016 was USD 27.7 million. In 2015 the expenditure was USD 28.1 million.
  • While the auditors provided a favorable account of ICIMOD finances and policies, they did note a need for improvement around partnership management and staff timesheet bookings.

The new canteen committee was formed. They will be responsible for liaising between the ICIMOD staff and the on-campus canteen. The new committee includes, Aditi Mukherji (chair), Deepa Basnet, Christopher Butler, Amina Maharjan, Saisab Pradhan, and Pradyumna Rana.