Sikkim to host Sustainable Mountain Development Summit

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Gangtok, 18 May, 2012:

The second edition of the Indian Mountain Initiative – Sustainable Mountain Development Summit 2012 (IMI SMDS2) is being held in Gangtok, Sikkim on the 25th and 26th of May, 2012.

The planning and execution of the Summit is being headed by a Steering Committee and the event will be hosted by the Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS), Gangtok in association with Central Himalayan Environment Network (CHEA), Nainital, Uttarakhand. CHEA hosted the Summit in its inaugural year, 2011.

The two day event promises to bring together academicians, scholars, practitioners, government representatives, NGOs and students from all eleven of India’s mountain and hill states. A detailed process has been designed to help us achieve our desired outcomes and outputs.

Mountains and hills cover a large part of the landmass and have attracted mankind for both material and spiritual well being for decades now. Around 12% of the world’s population lives in the mountains, with 70% of these being in rural areas. About 28% of the world’s forests are in the mountains, which support about half the world’s biodiversity. Millions of people downstream depend on the mountains for water and other ecosystem services. What happens in the mountains affects nearly 1.2 billion people living in the downstream river basins, and up to 3 billion people are affected indirectly as they depend on the mountains for food and energy.

More recently, mountains have attracted renewed attention in the light of climate change, diminishing pool of global biodiversity and shrinking reserves of freshwater. Biophysical conditions in mountains are extremely fragile, making mountain populations and their livelihood conditions extremely vulnerable. Globalisation, economic growth, rapid population growth and changes in lifestyle are increasing stress on the sensitive mountain ecosystems. With the increased focus on global climate change and the far reaching impact it will have on mountain people, mountain ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide to more than half of mankind, mountains are gaining a new importance in the national, regional and global arenas. Climate change places mountain systems in developing countries and their growing socio-economic vulnerability, at the centre of this discussion.

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. A final session saw the conclusion of the summit 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.

The baton had now been passed to Sikkim and North East Region to host the IMI SMDS2.

The primary objective of the IMI SMDS2 is to look at policy governing issues around the broad themes proposed and to suggest key interventions in those, based on field experiences along with academic and intellectual inputs. In doing so the secondary objective of sharing of best practices and experiences amongst the different participants would also be fulfilled.

Another objective of SMDS2 would be to look into and discuss the direction and form that the mountain stakeholders would like this mountain initiative to evolve into. Ideas of institutionalising the initiative can be examined along with ways and means of sharing and collaborating in research, information and knowledge dissemination. All this would help in making for more enriched advocacy in influencing public policy at all levels.

The themes have been proposed as:
• Water
• Mountain livelihoods
• Communities and forests

Under each of these themes, sub themes have been included and have been interlinked with each other. Climate change adaptation, in tune with Millennium Developmental goals (MDGs), technological intervention and innovations for achieving Clean Development mechanisms (CDMs) would be at the helm of all discussions and serve as crossing cutting themes.

The number and quality of participants need to be restricted so that serious discussions and outputs can emerge. Maximum number of participants from each state would be 10. A total of not more than 150 invitees and participants are being planned for. A good mix of field practitioners and academicians/scientists, individuals and organisations is envisaged to participate in the workshop for maintaining a balance between field realities and policies that govern them.

The main event would bring together the results of the different theme based workshop unto one common platform and move towards building upon it, leading to a consensus on the same. Competent moderators would facilitate the workings of each group and steer the discussions in each working group, towards a meaningful output.

A side event would be a photography competition depicting the Themes of the Summit. The prize money would be substantial to attract the best of the talent in the field.



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