On 6-8 November 2023, the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), GEO Mountains, and multiple partner organisations including the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), co-convened a workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The workshop sought to bring together data providers and users from a range of disciplines across the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya. More specifically, through a series of invited presentations and group discussion activities, the workshop sought to: (1) identify examples of good practice, challenges, and solutions / opportunities regarding mountain monitoring, data exchange, and capacity sharing; (2) enhance the sharing of data, capacities, and training resources between monitoring authorities and researchers, as well as identify opportunities for students / Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to engage in mountain monitoring; (3) explore opportunities to enhance the thematic scope of existing monitoring efforts & better integrate biophysical and socio-economic data; (4) identify priority variables for monitoring, understanding, and predicting the socio-economic dimensions of mountain systems across the region under global change; and, (5) identify potentially high-impact projects that could be conducted collaboratively.

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 Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, ICIMOD (Photo: ©ICIMOD)

The workshop was well attended by researchers, representatives of national environmental monitoring agencies, and other local institutions. In total, 82 participants attended the workshop, of whom 62 attended in person and 20 online. Participants came from across the region, including Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and China. In addition, researchers working in the region or in a co-convening role from France, Italy, Romania, the UK, Switzerland, and Germany were in attendance.

During the two first days, the participants highlighted various issues, including geopolitical tensions, communication barriers, and the importance of sustained funding for long-term observations. Proposed solutions included improved collaboration, standardized guidelines for data, and additional funding to support data sharing and the maintenance of observational systems. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) emphasised the mutual benefits of enhancing data exchange between research and operational communities, and the policies and infrastructure that are in place to support this. A poster session was also held. Discussions revolved around data sharing practices, limitations, and the support needed. Recommendations included developing intergovernmental mechanisms, improving data management / sharing infrastructures, and promoting collaboration.

The second day also placed emphasis on ecological and socio-economic data. On the third day, Essential Socioeconomic Variables (ESVs) for the HKH region were discussed, and potentially high-impact collaborative projects were identified. Participants expressed interest in extending thematic scopes and prioritized socio-economic data ecology The workshop underscored the importance of public involvement and sustainability, suggesting the development of a network of local researchers.

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Participants during the plenary session (Photo: ©ICIMOD)

The concluding discussions highlighted the desire to produce a scientific publication based on the workshop's outcomes. Participants’ expectations were generally met, and suggestions made for future events included workshops or seasonal schools targeted towards ECRs. Finally, the organizers warmly thanked the co-organisers from WMO, ICIMOD, and HUC, all invited speakers for their excellent contributions, and all participants for sharing their time and expertise.

Read the full workshop report here.

 Cover image by ICIMOD.

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