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Message from the directors - Moving Mountains

Our Strategy 2030: transformative action for a better Hindu Kush Himalaya
Published: 21 Aug, 2023
⏲ 5 minutes Read

In 2019, ICIMOD published the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, the first definitive regional report on the status and future of the region that it is our mandate to protect. The report was crucial in forging a consensus among policymakers both regionally and globally about the climate vulnerability and significance of the people, nature and ecosystems within these mountains and its findings continue to guide much of work.

Importantly, in articulating the rapidly increasing magnitude and complexity of regional and transboundary challenges this region will face, it also paved the way for a complete reshaping of ICIMOD itself – the key overarching task to which ICIMOD committed itself in 2022.

With the full backing of our regional member countries, we embarked on an extensive consultation with governments, donors, partner institutions, and staff to ensure that the institution is fit-for-purpose for the decades to come. We are grateful to all our partners and supporters for their crucial contributions to the dramatic phase-shift this interrogation of our work and future direction has already unleashed. 

Our Strategy 2030: Moving Mountains, the fruit of this consultation, made it abundantly clear that the escalating effects of climate change, water insecurity, increased disaster risk, biodiversity loss and widespread socio-economic change required transformative action, and that ICIMOD itself needed to overhaul its processes and focus to meet these needs.

Alongside our fifth medium-term action plan (MTAP V, 2023-2026) our Strategy outlines how we will rise to meet the challenges ahead – transforming ourselves institutionally to be agile and responsive, resetting our portfolio and reorienting all our work to focus relentlessly on impact. Both documents were informed by our gender audit and quinquennial review and align with the stated priorities and global commitments of our RMCs. 

Being fit for purpose | Our new structure

At the centre of this work has been the shift to a more streamlined structure: organising ourselves into three Strategic Groups (SGs) and six Action Areas (AAs), through which we will deliver our results, supported by a new resource mobilisation team, a revamped gender, equity and social inclusion and monitoring and evaluation functions, and much more ambitious communications, plus a commitment to build our digital and innovation capacity.

Strategic Group One: Risks – cryosphere, rivers, air

We are dealing with new and complex risks in our region, including cascading risks. Our work under Strategic Group 1 – Reducing climate and environmental risks – will focus on assessing and managing risks related to water, cryosphere, and air, especially those that are transboundary in nature. We aim to improve understanding and communication of risks, the testing and piloting of solutions, building regionally consistent and informed risk management strategies in varied hazard and vulnerability contexts, and strengthening institutions, policies, and actions for clean air. Our air pollution workstream will focus on co-developing and scaling cleaner and socially responsive air quality solutions and investments for reduction of air pollutants, while continuing to support RMCs in the uptake of solutions and air quality monitoring and assessments.

Strategic Group Two: Economies – landscapes and livelihoods

Scientists estimate that this decade is our best and last chance to save the planet from irreversible damage. Our work under SG 2 – Shaping green and inclusive mountain economies – focuses on understanding the implications of rapid socioeconomic, climate and environmental change on mountain livelihoods and delivering inclusive solutions for marginalised mountain communities. Our focus is on nature-based solutions and incentives for conservation stewardship, with indigenous peoples and local communities being key to achieving conservation targets for the decade. Our work on scenarios, anticipatory adaptation, and human settlements addresses emerging challenges created in the fast-changing climate and socioeconomic contexts of the HKH. Lastly, we will work to support and build the field of green livelihoods and enterprises, nurturing and sustaining inclusive, green, energy efficient, and circular businesses in the HKH.

Strategic Group Three: Advocacy – global and regional

The HKH still fails to command anywhere near the attention, or investment, that is commensurate with its significance or fragility. It is crucial we redouble our efforts to raise awareness of the unprecedented and largely irreversible threats the region faces by contributing to global processes, increasing our capacity to respond by building new alliances, and attracting greater resources to the region. Our work under SG 3 – Enabling regional and global mechanisms for sustainable action – focuses on strategic regional cooperation and collaboration to shape the global agenda and advocate on mountain issues in regional and international processes pertaining to climate, environment, and development. Together with enhanced global outreach on these issues, the work here will focus on building recognition of the HKH in global forums to attract investment in priority areas through our ‘Mountains of Opportunity Investment Framework’ and deliver a high-level institutional mechanism for regional cooperation and collaboration based on the models of Alpine Convention, Arctic Council, and the Carpathian Convention.

From outcome to impact

Rebuilding an institute of the scale and complexity  as ICIMOD has not been without challenge. But this period of intentional interrogation, strategizing and change-management has left us with greater solidarity, accountability, and purpose than ever – and with an ICIMOD that is genuinely fit-for-purpose for the challenges ahead.

We are grateful to all our partners, donors and communities who have helped us achieve what we have in this plan period. While we reflected on the positives during the planning process, captured in the stories in this report, we encouraged honest feedback on shortcomings and areas for improvement. Based on the feedback and advice, we have created an MTAP that pushes us to be purposeful and responsive, and yet adaptive and agile, ensuring that we can better respond to and capitalise on emerging opportunities, thus enabling our work to move forward in stages from outcome to impact. 

We are thankful to our Board and ISG members, focal ministries, partners, and donors for contributing to this vision for the decade, endorsing our Strategy 2030, and setting us on this path. We look forward to your continued support and guidance.



Deputy Director General, ICIMOD

Director General, ICIMOD


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