8 countries, one territory – twice!

The Alps and the Hindu Kush Himalaya: two mountain ranges shared by eight States each, with outstanding biodiversity, fascinating cultural diversity and pressing challenges such as from climate change. In recent years, the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan) have intensified their exchanges on mountain issues. In 2020, the first Hindu Kush Himalayan Ministerial Mountain Summit established a high-level Task Force to assess the feasibility of establishing a regional institutional mechanism to take this partnership one step further. The process is coordinated by the regional knowledge development and learning centre ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), an intergovernmental organisation of the eight HKH countries existing since 1983.

ICIMOD and the Alpine Convention already cooperated on several occasions such as side events of the UNFCCC (climate) COP to jointly raise global awareness on the issues of mountain regions. Recently, the Permanent Secretariat responded to a request for a transfer of experience in the field of transnational mountain governance by hosting first a webinar (on 17 May) and then, from 23 to 25 June in Innsbruck, a study visit for Task Force members.    

The 13-person delegation from the HKH exchanged with representatives from the Austrian delegation, the Permanent Secretariat but also the Alpine Convention Observer CIPRA International in lively question and answer sessions about the processes and implementation of the Alpine Convention. During an excursion to the Mountaineering Villages of Vals and Schmirn in the Wipptal valley, where the delegates experienced and discussed with local stakeholders sustainability issues in the fields of farming, tourism, forestry as well as challenges from natural hazards, climate change, and rural depopulation.

“The Hindu Kush Himalaya is an amazing ecosystem of crucial importance for the world. Looking beyond, mountains all over the world are providing essential ecosystem services. This visit was an excellent opportunity to exchange on these topics and to share insights from our respective mountain regions. We are very honoured to have had this chance to welcome the HKH delegation and share a small part of our Alpine home with them!” said Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention, after the visit.

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