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Himalayan Water Conference: Transnational policies required for water governance in South Asia

  • Published at 09:49 pm November 16th, 2019
International Himalayan Water Conference 2019 opu
Experts address the International Himalayan Water Conference 2019 on Saturday, November 16, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka tribune

Expert also said that food, water, and energy nexus is of utmost significance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Transnational policies on water sharing issues for effective water resources management, and conflict mitigation need to be exchanged among the multi-stakeholders of the countries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, experts have said. 

Expert also said that food, water, and energy nexus is of utmost significance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and rapid poverty alleviation in South Asia, which are severely threatened by the impacts of global climate change. 

They came up with the observation at a two-day ‘International Himalayan Water Conference 2019: Highland and Lowland Interactions’ held at Spectra Convention Center in Dhaka on Saturday. 

The conference was jointly organized by Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and Hanns Seidel Foundation, Delhi with the participation of over 60 environmental scientists, policy makers, academics, and development practitioners from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. 

The inaugural session of the conference was addressed by Dr. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, BRAC University, Peter Fahrenholtz, German ambassador to Bangladesh, Volker Lennart Plan, Resident Representative of Hanns Seidel Foundation, New Delhi, and Dr. Abu Syed, BCAS Fellow.

In his keynote speech, Prof. Nishat said: "The directions to approach future planning have to come from politicians, and political masters must be in-charge, where technical-diplomatic-legal units will assist them. 

Prof. Nishat has also highlighted the importance of water sharing, and efficient management of trans-boundary water in the region with the emerging approach of basin-wise planning, and management of huge water resources in the Himalayan region to benefit the countries with hydro-power generation, navigation facilities, and disaster management in the context of climate change.

In his speech, Volker L Plan said: "Lives are interconnected across the boundaries through mountains, rivers, and water in South Asia. Water governance, and environmental politics now play a huge role in the regional, and global development issues.

"Therefore, we need transnational policies which shall reflect our knowledge, and influence the national policies and practices." 

German Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz said that currently the Himalayan region is confronted with unprecedented challenges, and climate change will incur huge economic, environment, social, and political costs.

"Therefore, peace, prosperity and sustainable development are to be ensured through protection, conservation, and sharing of water and environment in the region."  

Dr. Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS, said that flood management requires regional cooperation. "Flood management is possible through real-time data sharing, participation, and local response system. Data sharing will help establish an effective flood warning system."

The purpose of the conference is to derive knowledge and insights from the leading scientists, experts and policy makers from South Asian countries, and China on hydrological patterns, changes in ecology, population dynamics, challenges for socio-economic development, and potentials for trans-boundary water sharing in the Himalayan regions, said the organizers.