Gangtok, 14 Sept (IPR): As a prelude to the Board of Governors Meeting of ICIMOD to be hosted by Sikkim, the India-ICIMOD Partners’ Day was held at Chintan Bhawan today.
The programme was graced by Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) as chief guest. The event had the presence and participation of high-level officials of the Government of India and the Government of Sikkim, ICIMOD Board of Governors and ICIMOD Support Group members, ICIMOD’s partner institutions such as research and academic institutions, government agencies NGOs, international development organizations, and private sector entities.
The HCM, in his inaugural address, drew attention of senior government officials and donors to the uniqueness of Sikkim vis-à-vis the complex challenges faced by the mountain State, as well as the positives that Sikkim can offer to other mountain states. He urged the ICIMOD to work with institutions in Sikkim and the larger Indian Himalayan Region to address the challenges of climate change and build the adaptive capacity and resilience of mountain people.
He put forth his request to the relevant Ministries in the Government of India to extend support and lay special focus on Sikkim’s development. He called for support from all stakeholders to contribute towards making Sikkim a prosperous State.
While welcoming the ICIMOD Board of Governors and all the delegates from 20 countries to Sikkim, the HCM said that hosting the international conference has given Sikkim the opportunity to showcase its vision of sustainable development, environmental conservation and people’s well-being to the participating countries.
Elaborating on the challenges faced by Sikkim, the HCM stated that mountains are the hotspots of climate change and rise of temperature in the mountains implies huge risks and impact on natural resources and people. He cited the example of melting of glaciers and its impact on overall river flows, affecting irrigation, hydro-power production, and water for other use. He also drew the attention of the audience to the struggle faced by the local people such as erratic rainfall or snowfall, prolonged dry spells, warmer winters, drying of springs, and emergence of new diseases and pests in crops.
He also shared the recent incidents of deaths of over 300 yaks in North Sikkim due to heavy snowfalls. He said that the nomadic herders have been facing huge problems due to erratic weather patterns.
The HCM further said that in the background of such problems and challenges, it is important that we develop a better understanding of climate change, the response of ecosystems to such changes, and the impact on mountain people and livelihoods.
He further congratulated ICIMOD for coming out with the first Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report, which has drawn global attention to mountain issues and highlights urgent actions. He said that it was heartening to know that the Assessment report involved over 350 contributors drawn from the eight countries of the Himalayan region and beyond, including contributors from Sikkim as lead authors and reviewers.
While introducing Sikkim to the participating delegates, the HCM shared that the State is known for its rich culture, biodiversity, traditional farming practices, pristine nature and peace-loving people. He added that Sikkim is a model Indian Himalayan state which has made significant progress in adopting environmental security in development.
He highlighted sustainable practices and policies adopted by Sikkim such as green practices in farming, transforming our urban centres into some of the cleanest mountain towns and cities, increasing the area under forest cover and conserving biodiversity, protecting high altitude wetlands, incorporating environmental concerns into development programmes, and increasing general awareness on environmental issues.
He shared that his government is interested in developing ecotourism and green mountain products that promote youth entrepreneurship, and have Sikkim branding on all our products for the Indian and global markets. He urged ICIMOD to advise and provide technical support to make this vision a success.
The HCM also mentioned that the people of Sikkim worship Mt. Khangchendzonga and hence climbing from the Sikkim side is prohibited. He said that Sikkim is committed to preserving the cultural heritage and nature. He also shared with the audience the listing of Khangchendzonga National Park as the UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its natural and cultural significance.
One of the highlights of the Partner’s day event was the release of two important publications by the HCM namely ‘The Hindukush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People’ and ‘The Landscape Journey: A process tool for practitioners’.