By: Amanda Mei
The Yale Himalaya Initiative is now an associate member of the Himalayan Universities Consortium (HUC) under the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). At the annual meeting of HUC on November 1, the consortium enabled YHI to join its research network. Induction of YHI in HUC has charted a path for similar university initiatives around the world to join the consortium.
As a growing body, the HUC enhances collaboration between Himalayan universities. By bringing together academic, research, and policy institutions and enabling regional and global collaborations, the HUC promotes centers of excellence in research and learning. In order to strengthen the capacity of regional institutions, the consortium supports joint research and knowledge management programs on mountain-related issues. HUC partners are involved in developing and sharing curricula across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. In order to train professionals for sustainable mountain development, the consortium aims to generate high-quality knowledge, capacity, and skills.
In recent years, YHI has collaborated with consortium members such as ICIMOD in Nepal, Yunnan Minzu University in China, and Delhi University and Garhwal University in India. Currently, YHI is involved in a NASA-funded study on the effects of urban growth on land use, frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, and socio-economic vulnerability in the Himalayas. In addition, YHI offers online training programs that might support educational centers in the Himalayan region. These collaborative efforts have enabled YHI’s admission into the HUC.
During the annual meeting of HUC organized on November 1, YHI officially signed onto the HUC charter. The meeting was a venue for participants to discuss the creation and sustainability of thematic research groups. Participants also discussed how associate members such as YHI could assist in the research and other activities of the growing body. In coming years, YHI will participate in HUC thematic groups such as Disaster Risk Reduction, Environmental Humanities, Natural Resource Management, Urbanization, and Livelihoods.
YHI Program Director, Dr. Alark Saxena said the admission of YHI into the HUC was a significant step forward. As the Himalayan region is one of the most biologically and culturally diverse in the world, and as economics of South and Southeast Asia rapidly develop, sustainability solutions for the fragile mountain environment are necessary. The HUC, including members such as YHI, is contributing to research that is “extremely important for the world, not only the countries sharing the Himalayan boundaries,” according to Dr. Saxena.