On 18 April 2019, an inception meeting the UNU-IAS project Water for Sustainable Development (WSD) was held in Pokhara, Nepal. The meeting, jointly organised by UNU-IAS and Pokhara University, brought together more than 30 participants from the Kaski district of Nepal to discuss water challenges and begin developing policy tools for sustainable development in the region.
Speaking at the meeting Bikash Lamsal (Minister for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, Gandaki Province, Nepal) underlined that “water is the basis for development and prosperity”. For the development of Gandaki Province it is important to link decision making with scientific evidence, with universities playing a critical role.
Man Bahadur GC (Mayor, Pokhara Municipality, Nepal) stressed the need for quality research to support implementation, and highlighted the need to connect water to various sectors for sustainable development in Pokhara. The mayors of the rural municipalities of Annapurna, Machapuchre, and Mardi called for upstream and downstream linkages, particularly in terms of water quality and quantity for the Pokhara Municipality. Representing local entrepreneurs, Ganesh Bhattarai recommended a model for mountain development that integrates various sectors.
The WSD project was introduced by Saroj Chapagain, Geetha Mohan, and Andi Besse Rimba, who emphasised that water was central to all economic activities. They noted that cost analysis of various options, including wastewater treatment and measures to curtail environmental degradation, can form a good basis for decision making.
Madan Lall Shrestha (Academician, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology) provided an overview of the climate change in the Gandaki Basin, highlighting its vulnerability to increasing temperatures, accelerating glacier melt, and a rising incidence of floods and landslides. He stressed the need for province- and district-level climate information to inform development.
Kensuke Fukushi (Senior Project Advisor, UNU-IAS; Professor, University of Tokyo) said the meeting provided a good snapshot of the priorities for economic development in the Kaski district, and that over the next 2 years they would continue discussions with stakeholders to support informed decision making. In collaboration with Pokhara University the WSD project seeks to develop analytical tools and policy options related to the conservation of water environments.