Glaciers & Students Project: preventing hydrogeological hazards in Pakistan’s mountains

UNDP, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), Government of Gilgit Baltistan and EvK2CNR organized Inception Workshop to formally launch the “Glaciers and Students Project”

August 24, 2022 Gilgit: The inception workshop was conducted to formally launch the project “Glaciers & Students. The project is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), executed by UNDP Pakistan, and Implemented by EvK2CNR.

The overall aim of the project is to prevent risks of hydrogeological hazards in Pakistan’s mountain areas, by establishing an evidence-based assessment and monitoring system for mountain glaciers to determine the behaviours of the glaciers with scientific studies and through the installation of Automatic Weather stations. The project will actively involve local universities and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the study and monitoring activities. A dedicated training and capacity-building programme will be designed for the students to ensure long-term sustainability of the project.

Representatives from all key stakeholders including Govt. of Gilgit Baltistan, Karakorum International University, and Civil Society Organizations were in attendance.  Mr. Khadim Hussain Saleem, Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Professor Dr. Engineer Ataullah Shah, Vice Chancellor of Karakoram International University, Mr. Imran Ashraf, Representative of AICS, Mr. Knut Ostby, Country Representative UNDP Pakistan, Mr. Agostino Da Polenza, President EvK2CNR and Goodwill Ambassador of Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan on the promotion of tourism in GB, Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan, Scientific Representative EvK2CNR Pakistan, Mr. Sajjad Haider Secretary Minerals, Industries, Labor and Commerce, Mr. Faisal Ahsan Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment participated in the workshop.

The workshop started with the opening remarks of Knut Ostby, Resident Representative, UNDP. He mentioned that “The importance of projects like Glaciers and Students becomes more vital when it comes to mountains and glaciated regions as the ecosystems in such areas are more fragile and need particular attention.” He added that this project will act as a bridge to transfer the technology and make better decisions for resilience.

Imran Ashraf, Senior Advisor Agriculture & Natural Resources on Behalf of Mrs. Emanuela Benini, Director Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), stated that “AICS believes in the nexus between Research and Education to be rooted in Pakistan, through a network of linkages between universities and institutes of Italy and Pakistan”.

Maurizio Gallo, Project Manager, EvK2CNR Italy gave a comprehensive presentation on the project to apprise all the participants on the planned activities. Mr. Ashiq Ahmed Khan, Scientific Representative EvK2CNR explained in detail the Glaciers Ecology, challenges and opportunities in the context of Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Shehzad Hassan Shigri, Director, Environmental Protection Agency emphasized the need for the installation of automated weather stations to better predict hazards. He also explained the research gaps in Pakistan and the need for international collaborations.

Prof. Dr. Engineer Ataullah Shah, Vice Chancellor of Karakorum International University (KIU) briefed the audience on the portfolio of KIU, and the support already provided in terms of research to different development projects and glaciers initiatives by KIU. He appreciated the provision for collaboration in the project with the academic institutions from UNDP and EvK2CNR that will lead to the sustainability of the project.

Faisal Ahsan Pirzada, Secretary of Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department, Gilgit Baltistan expressed his views at the event as, “innovative approaches under Glaciers and Students are vital for improved resilience”. He reiterated his support to the project and future initiatives.

Khadim Hussain Saleem, Secretary Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries Department Gilgit-Baltistan expressed his views as Chief Guest, “on behalf of Government of Gilgit Baltistan every possible support will be extended in this project”. He also wished success to all partners. He applauded the continued support from the AICS for several projects executed and implemented by UNDP and EvK2CNR with a focus on the conservation of protected areas and for the improvement of the livelihood of associated communities.

The event concluded with the Vote of thanks from Mr. Arif Hussain, Regional Manager Gilgit Baltistan EvK2CNR on behalf of Mr. Agostino De Polenzo, President EvK2CNR Association. He expressed thanks to all the participants including the Government of Gilgit Baltistan representatives, academia, partners, donors and media.

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