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Genesis of Indian Mountain Initiative
IMI takes into account, the Global Mountain scenario and the Regional and Indian Mountain scenario, as narrated in the preceding first two sections. It particularly takes note of the fact that there now exists, a Mountain Initiative of the Government of Nepal technically assisted by the only inter-governmental organisation in the HKH region, which has India as one of the eight Regional Member Countries. Besides the Mountain Initiative announced in the Copenhagen meeting of COP now there also exists a National Action Plan on Climate Change, which has a specific National Mission on Sustainable Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE). NMSHE expressly speaks of regional cooperation among South Asian countries in context of the climate change. These two major developments in the region suggest that there has to be an initiative to complement the Mountain Initiative in context of the on-going global discussions of climate change. The Indian Mountain Initiative has been initiated to ensure that all Indian Mountain states, which presently have no mechanisms in place, can be provided one such forum, where all stakeholders could hold open and informed dialogues from time to time.
It therefore attempts to address the lack of a platform for sustained and effective dialogue to bring mountain concerns, centre stage to the regional, national and global agenda. It seeks to bring the eleven mountain states of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) including the hill districts of Assam and West Bengal onto this platform.
Task Force on hill states and hill areas has also recently suggested that “The IHR States must agree to a common essential platform for regular interaction and from therein, decide on a common essential plan for the region.” It has recommended establishment of a Himalayan Development Forum for all IHR States. In view of the fact that various similar recommendations of the various Working Groups and Task Forces have not had any tangible manifestation in terms of concrete timely action at the national level, the Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA) based in Nainital, Uttarakhand with like-minded people initiated to follow-up this extremely timely and relevant recommendation of the Task Force thus creating to the formation of the IMI.
IMI Sustainable Mountain Development Summits I
Summit One – SMDS-I, Nainital - Uttrakhand
The first Summit meet was held in Nainital on the 21st and 22nd of May 2011 and was conceptualized and hosted by CHEA. The two day event had an inaugural session followed by two breakout sessions on Day I and two on Day II. There were also two side events - The First Himalayan Photography Competition and an exhibition on herbs and medicinal plants promotion organized by the Herbal Research Development Institute (HRDI) Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand.
There were four themes selected for the Summit. The selected themes and the number of papers presented for each are given below:
- Hydropower Projects in Mountain Regions (11 presentations)
- Adaptation Measures under Climate Change Scenario in Mountain Regions (18 presentations)
- Rural Tourism in Mountain Regions (10 presentations)
- Community Forestry in Mountain Regions (10 presentations)
There were over 260 participants with representatives from all the Indian mountain states and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Participants included a rich mix of eminent scientists, researchers, academicians and scholars from reputed scientific, research and educational institutions, senior and distinguished officers from various state governments and governmental organisations, local government representatives, representatives from national and grassroots level NGOs, business and industry representatives, consultants, and experts, eminent citizens and representative of the media.
The principal objective of the summit was to serve as a platform for various stakeholders from the mountain states to come together to engage in an informed debate on identified themes with the objective to inform and influence public policy formulation with regard to the mountain region. The latter objective was to inform and influence public policy and this was manifested post-summit with the setting up of a Working Group by the Planning Commission of India to look into mountain specific issues in relation to the formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan.
IMI Sustainable Mountain Development Summits II
Summit Two – SMDS-II, Gangtok - Sikkim
There was general consensus amongst all participants in IMI SMDS1 “agreeing to a common essential platform for regular interaction and from therein, decide on a common essential plan for the region”.
IMI SMDS2 hosted at Gangtok, Sikkim by the Ecotourism Society of Sikkim (ECOSS) from 25 - 26th May primarily looked at policy governing issues around the broad themes proposed and suggested interventions based on field experiences along with academic and intellectual inputs. The secondary objective was sharing of best practices and experiences amongst the different participants. Another objective of SMDS2 was to look into and discuss the direction and form that the mountain stakeholders would like the IMI to evolve into. Ideas of institutionalising the initiative were examined along with ways and means of sharing and collaborating in research, information and knowledge dissemination.
The themes have been proposed as:
- Mountain livelihoods
- Communities and forests
Under each of these themes, sub themes were included and interlinked with each other. Climate change adaptation, in tune with Millennium Developmental goals (MDGs), technological intervention and innovations for achieving Clean Development mechanisms (CDMs) were at the helm of all discussions.
A total of about 150 invitees and participants from a good mix of field practitioners and academicians/scientists, individuals and organisations participated in the workshops.
Side events included the Himalayan Photography Competition depicting the Themes of the Summit, as well as, exhibition and demonstration of various mountain technologies.