Institutional strengthening, forging partnerships and funding opportunities

SMDS IX

13th December | 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

COVID-19 has had adverse social, economic and environmental impacts in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). It has exacerbated old risks and vulnerabilities while creating new challenges such as employment and livelihood, especially in rural areas and that of the returnees from many urban cities.

Tourism, which was the second-largest employer after agriculture, has been devastated by the pandemic. There are attempts being made to revive the tourism sector but there are apprehensions that many small players would lose out even as there is an emphasis on high-end tourism. Education has also been severely affected. Schools and colleges taking up online learning option have  exposed a deep digital divide and access to such technologies in rural areas is another challenge.

In the farm sector, restricted labour movement (lockdown and fear of infection),  interrupted farming activities in mountains as well as in plains, disrupted food supply from plains, increased food demand in the mountains due to returnee migrants,  closure of food processing industry in exporting countries and trade of only essential items[1] has only added to the existing pressures on food security.

Migrants from the hill states, who left their home state mostly due to lack of employment, higher aspirations and for higher education have returned. Though the returnee migrants are extremely vulnerable, they have professional experiences, training and new work ethic which can play an important role in reviving the local economy, if connected with local organisations on a functional platform. There is an urgent need to reskill the returnees for local job markets, leveraging on the natural resources of the region.

Moreover, the pandemic has accentuated multi-fold challenges of IHR even as it had a looming climate change crisis facing the region. The impending climate risks in the region has been a matter of serious concern. Melting permafrost, retreating glaciers, cloudbursts, frequent landslides and other climate related disaster risks, drastic change in agricultural cycles – all these and many more indicators suggest the heavy pressure under which the IHR already wrestles even before the current pandemic.

On the other hand, this crisis has also offered an opportunity to explore new and creative ways of kickstarting a new template for a resilient mountain future in the spirit of #BuildBackBetter #BuildBackGreener #GreenRecovery with emphasis on green skilling, green jobs and green economy.

It is an opportune moment to re-engage and connect with multiple stakeholders to advocate collaborative action on policy, research and implementation of best practices in the mountain states. This calls for building partnerships with existing and emerging stakeholders and actors working for the mountain communities and states. The development pathways to a prosperous Himalayan future will require much more active cooperation and partnerships in the coming years. There is a pressing and urgent need for robust, seamless partnerships of all key stakeholders working for the common goal of resilient mountain economy in the IHR.

The entire concept of Institution Building, Funding and Building Partnerships are inter-related and they need to be discussed together and in a holistic way. We have the context of the entire program in front of us since it has to follow from the outputs of the sessions held earlier:

  • Session 1: Re-imagining a post covid-19 IHR for a resilient future: The need for Adaptive Strategies
    • Migration and Sustainable local economies
    • Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate resilient future for IHR
    • Water Security and Climate Resilient Future for IHR
  • Building resilient rural economy in IHR in the post COVID-19 scenario: A call for innovative solutions
    • Innovative solutions for the farm sector
    • Digital Opportunities and green future
  • Co-creating Resilient Mountain Solutions through partnerships: Accelerating collaborative efforts: Institutional strengthening, forging partnerships and funding opportunities

In this backdrop, this session will focus on synthesising the learnings and outcomes from the previous sessions and delve into the pressing question of how to take the discussion points forward. With this approach, the panellists will explore, share and discuss strategies for building their own resources at state level, at local level, and at the household level.

It will include brief presentations from the 3rd Indian Himalayan Youth Summit, Water and DRR, the Economy  and Jobs, followed by targeted questions to the panellists from the moderator and also from the audience.

Four key areas:

  • Forests and Carbon Footprint – explore financial pool which states can explore for funding
  • Ecosystem Services – expand horizon for states on what is possible under this sector
  • Organic and Green Recovery – showcase how organic and green future is possible with an example of how it has been done
  • Digital Jobs – what must states be doing in order to create and support more digital jobs

This Session, therefore, while integrating the preceding sessions, will focus on the critical role of building partnerships and exploring pathways towards a resilient future for IHR in a post-COVID19 scenario.

  • Institution building and their role in the new normal: This gives us the context – and in this we have to look at how institutions will need to build resilience in the wake of the pandemic – WFH and lower carbon footprints – how this will play out in terms of lowering costs of operations?
  • Reimagining partnerships for building resilient Himalayan Future: In the new normal, what does partnership mean? Who are the new stakeholders? How do we synergise more by better and more effective partnerships? There is better coordination due to the technology platforms and social media outreach.
  • Funding for action: opportunities, learnings and strategies: And most importantly in a new age of less funding from everywhere how do we manage our work? What could be innovative sources of funds?