Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has reiterated India's commitment to deepening regional cooperation and institution-building in the fields of environment, forestry and climate change.

Mr. Ramesh was in Nepal last week to inaugurate a conference organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which works on fragile mountain eco-systems and livelihoods of mountain people in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.

In an exclusive conversation with The Hindu, Mr. Ramesh said India was intensifying its relationship with the ICIMOD. “Between 1983 and 2006, we gave $1 million to the regional organisation. In three years alone — 2009, 10 and 11 — India would contribute half-a-million dollars to the ICIMOD.” The ICIMOD's areas of operations include India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Bhutan.

The ICIMOD has been facilitating the Mount Kailash Sacred Landscape Initiative, involving India, Nepal and China. These countries will collaborate on eco-restoration and bio-diversity management in their parts of the territory. Mr. Ramesh expressed interest in developing other such trans-boundary initiatives.

“India has given $1 million each to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation [SAARC] Forestry Centre, Thimphu, and SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre, Male. The National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology, Dehra Dun, is intended to be a centre for measuring, modelling and monitoring of the Himalayan glaciers and provide a platform for regional institutional linkages. There's need for more science to understand the complex behaviour of Himalayan glaciers, whose health is of deep concern.”

Tiger conservation

India and Bangladesh have collaborated on the Sunderban Eco-System Forum which would, among other things, focus on tiger conservation. He also announced two fellowships for young Nepali researchers working in the field of environment in centres of excellence in India.

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