The South Asian regional network of the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM-SA) includes 4 sub-continental - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal - and two island countries –Maldives and Sri Lanka. The mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) are abundant in natural resources. The Himalayan region which largely falls in the region possess unique landscapes, provide valuable ecosystem goods and services to support livelihoods – directly and indirectly - of more than billion people. But the harsh terrain and lack of enabling policies, institutional frameworks and capacities have constrained a sound ecosystem management practices and pose serious challenges to sustainable development of this important region which contains close to 45% of the global poor. The greater Himalayan region includes four global biodiversity hotspots, 330 important bird areas, 60 global eco-regions, and the 488 protected areas. The Himalayas are characterized as the water tower of Asia being the source of some of the mightiest rivers in the World that support water supply, food production, biodiversity richness, and energy generation to the fast-growing economies of the World. However, this region also has high rate of deforestation and could lose large portion of its original forests and biodiversity by 2100 due to climate and socio-economic changes occurring in the region.
CEM-SA provides a means for interested coupled human-ecological system (CHES) professionals to share and use information and to collaborate, co-operate, and support in filling in the knowledge gap and enhance greater understanding of the issues, challenges and opportunities in ecosystem management in the region. Through active networking with contextual and research-based knowledge it aims to work on the following objectives: a) to promote sustainable management of ecosystems ensuring continuous availability of critical ecosystem goods and services; b) to foster holistic, regional and coherent approaches to address complex ecosystem related issues; and c) to encourage ecosystem based adaptation and management strategies in the context of climate and global changes. These objectives are being achieved through close collaboration with key stakeholders especially, the government and non-government agencies, research and academic institutions, private sector, and community-based organizations. Some of the initiatives CEM-SA members are involved in are as follow:
Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EBA) Mountain Programme – EBA - Adapting to climate change in mountain ecosystems - a joint initiative of UNEP, UNDP and IUCN and supported by German government is being implemented as a pilot project in Nepal. Its goal closely matches with the CEM mission of providing expert guidance on integrated approaches to the management of natural and modified ecosystems and promote effective biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Some of the CEM members are closely associated with this Project which has a huge scope for South Asia which is being highly impacted by climate and socio-economic changes.
Knowledge Sharing: The CEM-SA has developed contacts and collaboration with a number of national and regional partners, key among them are: a) ICIMOD: The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – and based in Kathmandu, Nepal. CEM’s collaboration is in the areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development; b) Climate Himalaya Initiative (CHI): The CHI is CEM-SA’s knowledge partner since it maintains a well resourced and updated knowledge portal and shares mountain development and climate related issues and relevant knowledge solutions in the Himalayan region of South Asia.
Contribution to the CEM Vision and Mission: CEM-SA’s sole aim is to contribute to the CEM vision of: “Healthy, resilient ecosystems that conserve nature and sustain life.” For this, we have set up a CEM-SA Core Group comprising 10 member Core Group out of the CEM members in South Asia. The main purpose of the Core Group is to identify topical issues related to CEM Agenda and interact more intensively on the topics leading to wider sharing the learning within the regional and global CEM community and larger conservation adaptation groups on ecosystem management.
Communication: CEM-SA: The CEM-SA is trying to maintain good internal and external communication. It is carrying out knowledge based networking, partnership building, and incremental learning. For this it has been maintaining regular communication with the IUCN HQ, CEM Steering Committee focal point and Global Chair. We are continuously trying to expand the membership base and respond to members’ concerns, views, and events. We plan to initiate virtual platforms to bring the CEM members together and if possible also organize face-to-face meetings.