Science-Policy Roundtable on Climate Change Adaptation

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Background and Rationale 

Mountains in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) are ‘water towers’, which provide water and services such as food, biodiversity, and energy to 1.3 billion people downstream. However, climate change is these mountains. Scientists project a likely increase in temperature by about 1–2°C by 2050, and more so at higher altitudes. Additionally, the monsoon in the HKH is expected to become longer and more erratic, with precipitation projected to change by 5% on average and up to 25% by 2050. Further, glaciers are projected to continue to suffer substantial mass loss. 

Regional programmes at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) aim to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream. Further, they aim to be more responsive to the needs and demands of women by enhancing their adaptive capacity and building their resilience to climate change. ICIMOD has also been playing an active and key role in promoting regional cooperation among member countries. ICIMOD’s research and action on adaptation has brought forth a large inventory of solutions that can be taken up for policy and practice. 

  • Developed under the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), the Resilient Mountain Villages (RMVs) approach builds a foundation for resilient development through simple solutions and the Community-Based Flood Early Warning System (CB-FEWS) offers an integrated system of tools and plans to detect and respond to flood emergencies. 
  • Adaptation pilots introduced by the Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience Research (HI-AWARE) in major river basins include: 

  1. Eco-san toilets to improve health and hygiene in flood prone areas
  2. Solar pumping irrigation systems coupled with climate smart agriculture packages to improve farm productivity and enhance resilience 
  3. Climate and flood resilient (CFR) housing to bring relief from inundation and livelihood insecurity to the flood affected residents 

  • The Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) has recognized ecosystem interfaces and the identification of hotspots related to human-wildlife conflict, drying spring sheds, and the potential of sustained production in supporting innovative livelihoods. 
  • ICIMOD has been working on integrated value chain development as a tool for poverty alleviation in rural mountain areas through its Himalica (Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya) initiative. 
  • The Improving Livelihoods and Enhancing Resilience of the Rural Poor in the Hindu Kush Himalayas to Environmental and Socio-economic Changes (AdaptHimal) initiative has been working towards reducing rural poverty and enhancing the resilience of the poor, especially women, to social, economic, and environmental change. 

ICIMOD has also been using geospatial data and tools for adaptation planning and monitoring in the HKH through various regional programmes, which could play a crucial role in supporting policy makers. Other initiatives within ICIMOD are working on issues like river basin management, cryosphere, and atmospheric pollution, among others. 

Objectives of the Roundtable

To put its research into use, ICIMOD has been engaging with policy makers and practitioners at various levels. In this process, the Science-Policy Roundtable aims to bring together senior climate policy makers and some policy champions to discuss the following:

  • Scientific evidence generated at regional and national levels that are relevant for action at the local level
  • The suitability of adaptation solutions identified under ICIMOD’s research initiatives for policy uptake
  • Future research areas and capacity development needs to which ICIMOD may contribute through its regional programmes

This roundtable marks the beginning of a process of policy engagement at the sub-national level in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The June roundtable will focus on the Indian Himalayan region, and aims to identify solutions towards ‘adaptation at scale’ that are likely to emerge from a greater inter-state, upstream-downstream, and cross-country cooperation in the HKH.