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ICIMOD Celebrates 25 Years of Working for Mountains and People

Panel Discussion

In 2008, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) celebrated 25 years of working for mountains and people in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. A series of activities and events were held starting in April 2008 on the themes of resilience and the Hindu Kush-Himalayan people's adapting to climate change, and promotion of sustainable mountain development. The celebrations culminated with a week-long series of events from December 1 to 6, built around the actual anniversary day of ICIMOD's foundation on December 5.

One of the major events, which lasted throughout the week was the outdoor photo exhibition "Himalaya-Changing Landscapes," held against the backdrop of Nepal's national heritage site at Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu Durbar Square from December 2 to 8, 2008. The exhibition contained panoramas of mountains, valleys, and glaciers in the Khumbu region of Nepal taken in the 1950s and retaken in 2007. It also showed photos of scientific teams conducting research in the 1950s and portraits of mountain people. The recent photographs were taken by mountain geographer Alton Byers of The Mountain Institute (TMI), who shared these and the old historic photos from his personal archive with ICIMOD under the ICIMOD/TMI partnership agreement. The photographs provided a striking visual impression of how climate change and glacial melting are affecting the region. It also emphasized the resilience of the mountain people in coping with these circumstances. The exhibition had been on display earlier in the year in different formats in Stockholm, Sweden in August and Barcelona, Spain in October.
The event was promoted by the Nepal Tourism Board and inaugurated by Ms Hisila Yami, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, with members of the ICIMOD Board of Governors, representatives of the government of Nepal, and various other local and international dignitaries present. The week-long exhibition was popular among Kathmandu locals and visitors alike. The panels shown in Kathmandu are now on display at the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, with the agreement of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, for all to enjoy and study.

On ICIMOD's actual anniversary day, December 5, a high-level panel discussion on 'The Role of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) Mountain System in the Context of a Changing Climate" was organized at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu. Seven invited panelists discussed with participants key issues and challenges faced by the region such as climate change, deterioration of environmental quality, loss of biodiversity, and shortage of water, and the socioeconomic and environmental consequences for livelihoods, poverty, and food security. The potential role of ICIMOD in enhancing adaptation and building the resilience of mountain communities region was also discussed. The invited audience comprised some 200 people including government representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, international development agencies, media representatives, and members of the ICIMOD Support Group and the ICIMOD Board of Governors from its eight regional member countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.

A 25th Anniversary commemorative book "ICIMOD and the Himalayan Region: Responding to Emerging Challenges" was launched at the panel discussion. The book provided an opportunity to look back and reflect, and to look forward and redefine the Centre's role, responsibilities, and orientation. Selected scholars, development practitioners, and scientists from the region and beyond were invited to provide a commentary on different aspects of the Centre from their personal perspective. The resulting publication provides diverse views and insights into the development of the Centre, a review of its work from a regional and global perspective, and ideas about the role it could or should play in the future. The Centre also took the opportunity to thank the regional member countries for their continuous support and confidence; the international sponsors, whose support has provided the basis for the last 25 years of work for the wellbeing of the people of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region; the many bilateral and multilateral agencies who have sponsored particular activities and enabled the Centre to grow and develop its capacity to respond to the growing expectations; and especially the staff of the Centre whose efforts and availability, commitment, and perseverance are the backbone of the institution.

A commemorative cover was also issued to mark the 25th anniversary and was ceremonially postmarked by Dr. Pitamber Sharma, the Vice Chairperson of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, with a special ICIMOD anniversary cancellation stamp at the high-level panel discussion. The cover art was designed by Alex Treadway for ICIMOD and approved by the Nepal Postal Services Department of the government of Nepal. On December 5, 2008, all outgoing mail from the Kathmandu Post Office bore the ICIMOD Anniversary postmark. A similar souvenir cover was brought out when ICIMOD was first established and inaugurated in Kathmandu 25 years ago.

In the evening of December 5, ICIMOD held a gala function at the Hyatt Regency for staff and invited guests. The function was graced by the Right Honourable President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, who addressed the audience. Other speeches were delivered by Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, eminent scientist Professor Bruno Messerli (keynote speaker), and the incoming ICIMOD Board Chair, Mr. Sherub Gyaltshen from Bhutan. The program included a slideshow, musical performances, and a dance-drama on the theme of "Water." Selected ICIMOD staff dressed in the costumes of our member countries for the occasion. Seven staff members, who had completed 25 years of service with ICIMOD, were felicitated.

The week-long celebration finished with an Open House on December 6 at ICIMOD's headquarters in Khumaltar, Lalitpur, which was accompanied by an informative and fun-filled fair. The main aim was to raise people's awareness of ICIMOD's work and activities in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and the need to consider the welfare of mountain communities. The highlights of the Open House included guided tours of ICIMOD's programs, during which visitors were briefed on activities related to water, environmental change, and livelihoods. The library was reopened as the Mountain Learning and Information Centre, and a virtual trek of the Himalayas was provided on screen. Free distribution of older ICIMOD publications was one of the major attractions, especially for students and libraries. Sixteen partner organizations had stalls displaying and selling their publications and distributing posters in an Information Market. An exhibition with selected photos from the digital photo contest "For Mountains and People" was appreciated by all. A mini-theatre screened films on honey hunters, climate change, gravity ropeways, and other topics. A Climate Change corner was set up where the glacial melting phenomenon was explained with examples. Food stalls, gift stalls, games, and music were additional attractions to liven up the day. The response from the public was overwhelming, particularly from people associated with Nepalese NGOs, development agencies, schools, and colleges, as well as families and friends of staff. It is estimated that some 2,000 to 2,500 people came to the Open House.

Other Silver Jubilee events

  • Eco Everest Expedition 2008, April-May 2008
  • A Day Out in Godavari , May 3, 2008
  • Global Digital Photo Contest: "For Mountains and People" March 25 - May 16, 2008
  • World Environment Day 2008, June 5, 2008
  • Remote Sensing Technology for High Mountain Ecosystems, September 8-11, 2008
  • ICIMOD: New Challenges, New Look, September 15, 2008
  • International Conference on Mountain Biodiversity, November 16-18, 2008
  • International Mountain Day 2008, December 11-15, 2008
An overview of the Himalaya Changing
Landscapes Photo exhibition,
Hanuman Dhoka, Durbar Square
Visitors at the Himalaya Changing Landscapes
Photo exhibition,
Hanuman Dhoka, Durbar Square
ICIMOD staff welcoming guests at the gala
function at the Hyatt Regency
Visitors at the ICIMOD Open House

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