Kathmandu, 25 January 2012. Universities and research institutions working in the mountain and hilly regions of Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan have agreed to work together as a network for mountain-focused teaching, research, and outreach in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan (HKH) region.
The collaboration was cemented at a conference of more than two dozen university vice chancellors, deans, professors, and researchers held at the headquarters of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on 23 and 24 January 2012. The conference was convened by the ICIMOD-based Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), with financial support from the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
In the opening address, Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, spoke of ICIMOD’s readiness, as a regional knowledge and learning organisation, to work with the universities to generate new knowledge and technical solutions to address challenges of climate change, poverty, and environmental degradation in the region. Dr Veena Ravichandran of IDRC highlighted her organisation’s role in supporting research in developing countries to promote inclusive growth and development.
Dr Madhav Karki, ICIMOD Deputy Director General and the team leader of the HUC programme, in his keynote speech emphasised that knowledge is one of the most important development resources, creating awareness, opportunities, and skills. Noting that knowledge is increasingly linked with economic competitiveness, he expressed concern about the persisting gap between knowledge generation and its application in the HKH region. “Academia needs to adjust to both the region’s growing knowledge economy and its increasing socioeconomic disparity”, he said.
The participating universities developed an agenda for working together on research and knowledge generation to support, among others, sustainable livelihoods of the poor and marginalised people of the Hindu Kush–Himalayan countries. The consortium’s new programme will address skills development in social innovation, enterprise development, assessment of the role of the informal sector, and developing value chains of high value products and services that are based on the rich ecosystem services widely available in the hills and mountains of Himalayan countries. The group stressed the role of innovative and collaborative research and the need to develop communication strategies to promote the uptake of research results in policy and practice. ICIMOD will play a pivotal role in coordinating and steering the programme.