Colombo, Sri Lanka (6 July 2017) – Sri Lanka hosted a ground-breaking meeting to strengthen knowledge and support collective efforts on tackling climate change adaptation and other water-related challenges in the Indus Basin, home to more than 300 million people.
“Climate change continues to have significant impact on our limited, shared water resources across the globe,” said the Government of Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ravi Karunanayake. “The Indus Basin is one such key resource impacting Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan, and some 300 million people who live within the basin boundaries.”
Organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and held from 4-5 July 2017, the Forum brought together over a hundred researchers, government experts and development practitioners from the four countries sharing the Indus basin, with international experts and partner representatives.
Highlighting Sri Lanka’s role as the Forum’s host, the Minister added, “We hope that Sri Lanka may also benefit and contribute to these important outputs and that the spirit of collective endeavour may bridge not just communities of scientists but all other communities in the region sharing these challenges.”
Over two days, Forum participants examined the current knowledge landscape from each basin country’s perspective, and discussed current initiatives focusing on the basin. The Forum also stressed the importance of building stronger collaboration between those who generate scientific knowledge and those who need better knowledge and understanding to make more informed decisions.
“There has been over a decade of support from the World Bank for water cooperation dialogue in South Asia,” said Bill Young, Lead Water Resources Management Specialist from the World Bank. “Our support to Indus Basin dialogues has focused on building the knowledge foundation to help tackle the water management challenges, especially those associated with a changing climate. At the Indus Basin Knowledge Forum, the Bank is very pleased to see the cementing of collaborative partnerships with institutions in the region that are well placed to ensure longer term sustainability for this dialogue process.”
“The Indus is a high-priority basin for ICIMOD, as it ranks among the most important in the world in terms of human dependence on meltwater, directly or indirectly supporting populations numbering in the hundreds of millions,” said Arun Shrestha, ICIMOD’s Regional Programme Manager for River Basins and Senior Climate Change Specialist. “The Indus Basin Knowledge Forum has been an important milestone in assessing the nature of existing knowledge and development challenges in the basin. But more importantly, the Forum has generated some concrete actions to expand our knowledge and build greater coordination for work in the basin. For its work in the Indus Basin, ICIMOD receives support from the Government of Australia through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio.”
Experts identified key actions for strengthening the Indus Basin knowledge landscape, building on opportunities for knowledge sharing and co-development, while also making the knowledge already available more readily accessible. A few action points identified were to connect science with policy and practice, continue Indus Basin Knowledge Forum at both the national and regional level, and undertake collaborative research.
“IWMI is happy to lead the Informing Change in the Indus Basin [ICIB] program funded by DFID [Department for International Development, UK], which aims to improve the way knowledge is managed and shared in the basin, strengthening decision making and enhancing dialogue at different levels and through different channels in the basin,” said Alan Nicol, leader of IWMI’s Sustainable Growth strategic program. “We hope this meeting will lead to a set of practical actions on the ground, which genuinely deliver benefits to the Indus Basin development.”
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