Kathmandu, Nepal (18 November 2020): Our newly appointed Director General, Dr Pema Gyamtsho, has taken up his role, beginning his tenure as part of a major Ministerial Mountain Summit held on 15 October. A deeply experienced leader, Dr Gyamtsho’s past achievements span areas including linking public financing for environmental sustainability; enactment of legislation focusing on environmental stewardship, conservation and climate change mitigation; ensuring an enabling policy environment and community-level readiness for the expansion of community owned and managed forests; establishment of institutions and efforts promoting high quality research and evidence-based decision making on conservation and environmental issues; strategic programmatic visioning, planning, implementation and evaluation; and representation within globally significant platforms.
Dr Gyamtsho is the first Director General of ICIMOD who hails from the region. He brings to the position a deep passion for the people of the HKH and a commitment to help address the challenges across the diversity of the region’s mountain environments. Within his vision for the future of the institution, he seeks to build on the institution’s strengths and successes in its role as a convener and facilitator for regional cooperation. To this end, the timing of the start of his tenure during the recent HKH Ministerial Mountain Summit bringing together Ministers from all eight of the HKH countries is significant. Having signed a joint ministerial declaration, the Ministers agreed to promote a united voice for the region, to strengthen regional cooperation, to enhance uptake of scientific evidence, and to explore the potential for a high-level institutional mechanism.
Dr Gyamtsho has expressed his excitement about and commitment to work towards achieving the mission of ICIMOD for mountains and people of the Hindu Kush Himalaya. As he addressed the staff, he noted that, “ICIMOD’s mission to enable sustainable and resilient mountain development for improved and equitable livelihoods through knowledge and regional cooperation and its vision of men, women, and children of the Hindu Kush Himalaya enjoying improved well-being in a healthy mountain environment are important to me individually as a person from the HKH myself but also important collectively for all of us as it represents work that contributes to a positive and prosperous future for the region.”
He also noted about the Ministerial Mountain Summit that, “It was a moment of great personal satisfaction to me to begin my tenure as the Director General of ICIMOD during such an important event. And I am eager to move forward the HKH Call to Action which was at the heart of the ministerial declaration.” The Call to Action is a culmination of a series of science-policy dialogues where policymakers in all eight HKH countries discussed the findings of the recently released comprehensive assessment, the Hindu Kush Himalaya assessment: mountains, climate change, sustainability and people. The HKH Call to Action was drafted through this process and is thus a product of the individual governments, capturing their individual and collective regional priorities for action to mitigate and adapt to climate change; to accelerate achievement of the SDG goals for the mountains; to enhance ecosystems resilience and halt biodiversity loss and land degradation; to recognize and prioritize the uniqueness of the HKH mountain people; to share more regional data and information; and to cooperate at all levels across the HKH for sustainable and mutual benefits.
While the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic deepens some of the challenges for the region, it is also an opportunity to build a better, more sustainable future and orient towards the kind of action that protects the pulse of the planet and leads towards a resilient recovery. Both the recently published policy paper, COVID-19 impact and policy responses in the Hindu Kush Himalaya and the HKH Call to Action highlight the often very complex challenges for the region but both documents also offer hope that through cooperative action among our HKH countries, we can face those challenges with even greater strength and resolve to forge a more prosperous HKH for all.