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Building Effective Water Governance in the Asian Highlands

The Asian Highlands, including the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau, are the source of most major rivers in Asia and sustain nearly three billion people living downstream. Global warming and related climatic changes are predicted to impact river flows, soil moisture, and groundwater availability in the region. Socio-economic pressures are expected to compound water insecurity, particularly for vulnerable communities. At the same time, regional governments have yet to engage citizens in decision-making or address issues of trans-boundary water and governance. This project seeks to facilitate effective water resource management in the Asian Highlands by integrating climate change impact analysis with assessments of vulnerability, livelihood options, and water policy. Researchers at the Kunming Institute of Botany in China will develop regional bioclimatic maps and model climate scenarios to predict climate change impacts in the Asian Highlands. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation will partner with the Kunming Institute to assess vulnerability and capacity to adapt to climate change in select communities in Nepal and Pakistan, while the Institute will lead vulnerability assessments in China. These case studies, coupled with climate data and an analysis of water policies, customary rights, and water management practices, will form the basis for local and regional shared-learning dialogues. The project will also look at the interaction between key stakeholders, the distribution of risks and benefits, and the negotiation of outcomes. Findings will be delivered through regional policy briefs, technical reports based on downscaled climate models, and peer-reviewed scientific publications. A variety of multi-media tools and data visualization methods will be used to communicate results to local communities, development practitioners, and key decision-makers. This project is funded through IDRC's Adaptation Research Initiative in Asia (ARI-Asia) with funds from the Government of Canada's fast-start financing

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
36 months
IDRC Officer
Bhim Adhikari
Total Funding
CA$ 1,526,000.00
Climate Change
Institution Country
Project Leader
Bharat Pokharel
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
Institution Country
Project Leader
Jianchu Xu
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences as represented by Sun Hang



Building effective water governance in Asian highlands : living with risks and building resilience in water governance


Integrating local hybrid knowledge and state support for climate change adaptation in the Asian Highlands