The ‘Third Pole’: A monitoring and assessment programme to sustain the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region as a global asset

From 26-28 January 2016, the first writers’ workshop for the coordinating lead authors of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. HIMAP is a comprehensive assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region that aims to assist in addressing threats, act on opportunities, and scale up cutting edge approaches.

HIMAP frames the challenge as follows: “Outside of the North and South Poles, the HKH region contains the largest area of permanent ice cover in the world, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Third Pole’ of the earth. Its terrain encompasses the source of 10 major river systems, 4 global biodiversity spots, 330 important bird areas, and hundreds of mountain peaks over 6,000masl. The region provides water, ecosystem services, food, energy, and livelihood to 210 million people directly. An additional 1.3 billion people living downstream benefit from its resources indirectly and more than 3 billion people rely on energy produced in the basin catchment area of the Himalayan river systems. The region is also home to some of the most diverse cultures, languages, religions, and traditional knowledge systems in the world. For these reasons, the HKH region is clearly a major global asset, critical to the planet as a whole.”

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