ICIMOD takes the lead in advocacy on behalf of marginal regions and marginal communities in the Hindu Kush–Himalaya
ICIMOD, the first international center with a mandate to promote sustainable mountain development, has been recognized since the mid-1980s for its commitment to mountain people and mountain resources (see MRD Vol 20 No 1). Having been involved from the beginning in the process that led to the call for the proclamation of the International Year of Mountains in 2002 (IYM2002), ICIMOD is eagerly assuming a leadership role during IYM 2002 itself—especially within the Hindu Kush–Himalaya. Recognizing the unique opportunity offered by IYM 2002, ICIMOD has already begun a process of consultation, dialogue, and planning with various stakeholder institutions in its 8 member countries. A set of key issues and action plans has already been identified.
ICIMOD aims to undertake specific collaborative programs in the mountain areas of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan in order to improve sustainable livelihoods in marginal mountain regions and marginalized communities. It hopes to make a significant contribution to the lives of the men and women who live in these areas. ICIMOD conducts programs concerned with applied research, capacity building, and dissemination in 3 thematic areas—poverty alleviation, gender-balanced development, and management of the commons.
2002: IYM and International Year of Ecotourism
The year 2002 has also been proclaimed the International Year of Ecotourism. It is significant that the twin themes of mountains and ecotourism have been chosen since ecotourism has emerged as a major source of employment and income that can help transform mountain areas. The global growth of tourism and its accompanying impact on mountain areas and cultures offers yet another opportunity to deal with the problems of conservation and development.
ICIMOD envisages the following opportunities offered by the convergence of the two International Years:
A unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of mountain women and men by pursuing a diversity of programs and interventions designed by, with, and for people who live in mountain communities.
An endorsement of ICIMOD's commitment to marginal areas and marginalized communities through the adoption of a year-long commitment to programs at the regional and/or global levels.
A vital opportunity to address key strategic issues that can lead to systemic and structural change and which will continue to provide gains long after IYM2002. These strategic issues include such things as property rights for women, access and rights to common property resources, interventions in the emergence of new policies and legislation, peace and conflict in mountain regions, the rights of ethnic and disadvantaged groups, and technological advances in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.
A window of opportunity through which to pursue rapid formulation and emergence of new and appropriate mountain policies and legislation since IYM2002 will represent a chance to gain access to policymakers through various forums and discussions.
An opportunity for advocacy and media coverage that will take advantage of the increased capacity of the electronic media to provide a sharper focus on advocacy and extend its reach, while using mainstream media to publicize, address, and challenge stereotypes about mountain people and mountain issues.
ICIMOD's preparations for IYM 2002 have included internal dialogue as well as discussions with selected partner organizations in the Hindu Kush–Himalaya. Consensus has been reached that the overarching focus of IYM activities should be on marginal areas and marginalized communities in mountain areas. Thus, ICIMOD is prioritizing Marginal Regions and Communities as a theme for IYM 2002 (see ICIMOD's web site: www.icimod.org for details). Some of the specific activities to be undertaken are listed in Table 1, with e-mail addresses of contact persons.