Highlights from the Closing – Himalayan Consensus Summit 2017

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The closing session of the Himalayan Consensus Summit 2017 provided an opportunity to recapitulate the discussions conducted over the two-day summit, as well as determine new commitments and outcomes from the summit that can be implemented and taken up by various institutions. The closing session focused on a few key announcements made by institutions looking to develop the discourse on Himalayan development and have been summarized below:

David J. Molden, Director General, ICIMOD, Nepal: Countries in the Himalayan region share similar problems today – climate change along with other issues like outmigration, poverty, food, energy and water security as well as weak governance. To bring mountain people and societies together to solve these problems, the role of science and knowledge is crucial. Business communities also play a key role in harnessing opportunities in this region. Engaging policymakers and major stakeholders is also paramount to achieving this.

H.E. Kjell Tormod Pettersen, Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal: The Himalayan region observes a growing threat of climate change, lack of economic and social development and lack of water. To approach such difficulties jointly, it is essential to have visions, commitment of common goals and leaders with exceptional qualities and skills. A model worth looking into for this region is that of the High North or the area around North Pole. A scientific approach has created a platform there for solving potential conflicts over sea rights and access to resources as well as addressing the threat of climate change. Moreover, an important element of the setup also includes respect for the values, interests, culture and traditions of Arctic indigenous people.

Renaud Meyer, Country Director, UNDP: There have been rising conflicts all around the world whose roots have often been cited as being religious or cultural. However, when analyzed, the root causes of such conflicts are actually poverty, inequality, lack of opportunities and economic and political disempowerment of people. In order to overcome these, it is extremely important to discuss inclusive development which requires active participation from people. The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 incorporates this message and strongly advocates people to be actors of their own development rather than being passive beneficiaries. Furthermore, conflict can only be avoided if societies are more equal and empowered, when citizens are given a real and genuine reason to hope for a better future and when leaders demonstrate a genuine commitment to care about the people they lead.

Sun Yuxi, Senior Diplomat, China Foreign Ministry: China’s “One Belt One Road (OBOR)” policy and the Himalayan Consensus Summit’s principles mutually complement each other. Ideas learnt from HCS will be helpful while implementing projects under the OBOR policy. Advocating the concept and principles of HCS within the Chinese leadership circle is pertinent.

The Summit ended with eight announcements:

  1. Celine Cousteau, Founder of CauseCentric Productions and one of the panelists of HCS2017, will work on a documentary on the Himalayan indigenous people, their culture and ecosystem, in line with her project in the Amazon.
  2. Mahendra Shrestha, Chairman of Himalayan General Insurance, will work on a Himalayan Heritage Hotel Fund worth USD 20 million for conservation, sustainability and economic prosperity.
  3. Christopher Flensborg of SEB Bank announced an initiative to raise money to be deployed into a Himalayan Fund.
  4. Daniel C. Taylor, President of Future Generations University, announced 20 scholarships for students of the pan Himalayan region for Future Generations University.
  5. Ryan Nadeau, Director of Special Projects at Galvanize Inc., announced a competition with USD 300,000 prize for local innovators across the Himalayas which can help farmers access data and smart farming techniques.
  6. Hon Wai Wai from Research Institute for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage announced that Palace Musuem, Beijing will work with UNESCO on digitization of artefacts.

Eckhart Roth, Chief Risk Officer at Peak Re will create a pre-disaster fund for cities and towns to have instant cash to mitigate disasters.

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