Sustainable Mountain Development Summit begins in Leh
The Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS) has started at Leh organized by Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), a civil society organisation of 11 Himalayan States including Darjeeling in West Bengal and two hill districts of Assam. Its vision is “Making people of India proud of our mountains”.
IMI has been organizing the SMDS annually for the last 5 years. This year, the fifth annual Summit is being held in Leh, Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir in association with Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council and Snow Leopard Conservancy from Sept 20-22. Over the years, these Summits have deliberated on various thematic areas relevant to the mountain ecosystems. They are Disaster Risk Reduction in Mountain areas, Mountain Agriculture, Forests, water and Livelihoods. This year, the Summit in its fifth edition, delegates from all the mountain States, will be discussing the issue of Water Security and Skills for Development. Given the challenge of climate change and growing population, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure efficient and reduced consumption of water to ensure food security, availability of energy and bio diversity, said Chairperson, Sustainable Development Forum, Arunachal Pradesh Fantry Mein Jaswal.
A rapid shift from an agricultural economy to tourism has also pressurized the limited resources of the Mountain regions. Economic and social development of the region is greatly dependent of developing resilient skills appropriate to the region. The Summit therefore will also focus on entrepreneurial ventures such as crafts, eco-tourism, agriculture and allied skills which are appropriate for sustainable development of the mountain communities and ecosystem, she said.
Given the vulnerability of Ladakh as a region, Leh-Ladakh, the themes have been selected by the organizers to provide high visibility of the growing concerns of the mountain states.
The Summit will be attended by Parliamentarians; Ministers and MLAs from various States, the Council Members of the Leh Autonomous Council, Central and State Government officials, policy makers from region, civil society participants and a host of delegates from bilateral and multilateral organizations like the UNDP, SDC, WWF, ICIMOD amongst others. Having a vision based in holistic and sustainable development, the effort would be to draw upon reliable praxis and scholarly inputs, meaningful experiences with the involvement of leaders so that the summit will add actionable value to mountain states in their development efforts. Major understanding of differences in developmental paradigms between plains and mountains will be a key learning, especially for policy makers.