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Sustainable Resource Development
in the Himalaya

The Geological Society and IERT University of Jammu brought together scientists from the Himalayan nations and around the world, to discuss with policy-makers and community representatives how to develop sustainably the rich and varied resources of the Himalaya, to benefit the local communities and nations to which they belong.

Quick Links: Schools Programme | Conference Outputs | Speaker Presentations | Sponsors | Photos | Media Coverage | Background Information

The Conference AttendeesThe rich and varied resources of the Himalaya hold the promise of enormous opportunities for local communities and the nations to which they belong. 

Yet unless these resources are developed sustainably, they also have the potential to do great damage to people and environments. Geoscience holds the key to understanding these resources, and their effective and responsible development.

To explore relevant geoscience research and identify lessons for sustainable resource development in the Himalaya and more widely, the Geological Society and the Institute of Energy Research and Training, University of Jammu in collaboration with other local and international partner organisations, held a three-day conference in Leh, Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir – an area which is developing rapidly, and which the state and national governments wish to establish as an example of best practice in sustainable development.

Topics addressed at the conference included:

  • Advances in understanding the geology of the Himalaya
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to social development
  • Living in a changing environment
  • Meeting energy and water needs sustainably
  • Engineering challenges for development in mountain areas
  • Natural risks and hazards – earthquakes and landslides
  • Tourism opportunities and challenges 

The Conference

Delegates from the UK and other European nations, the USA, Taiwan, Malaysia and Jordan joined those from Jammu and Kashmir State, elsewhere in India, and other Himalayan nations.

Social scientists and development practitioners attended alongside natural scientists and engineers. This unique gathering provided opportunities for wide-ranging sharing of knowledge and perspectives, and led to fruitful discussions which will be reflected in the conference outputs.

Much of the dialogue focused on the challenges of balancing factors which may be in conflict – the material needs of local people and those further away (for example, the billion people who rely on Himalayan glaciers for their water); local, regional and national economic growth; and impacts on the environment, human health and wellbeing. These challenges are exacerbated by rapid population growth, locally and globally, and the local effects of global climate change.

Interdisciplinary approaches emerged as key to addressing these challenges, complementing the geoscience which underpins and controls so much of the natural system. Effective community participation and engagement in decisionmaking, though difficult to achieve, is essential alongside the application of scientific knowledge and technical expertise. Delegates also recognised the value of indigenous knowledge, and of learning from local and traditional ways of life. Cutting edge science and older forms of knowledge are both vital in educating the next generation.

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The Schools ProgrammeSchools programme

Prior to the main conference, a two-day teaching programme at St Peter’s School in Leh was attended by over 100 students from a number of schools in the region.

Representatives from the University of Jammu, University College London, Geology for Global Development, Eni, and the British Geological Survey Schools Seismology Project provided teaching and led practical activities on topics which directly affect the students – the origin and use of natural resources, climate change, the geology of landslides and earthquakes, and how to reduce the risk from these natural disasters.

Students were encouraged to take personal responsibility for what they can do to help address these challenges, and to act as ambassadors in their communities. They were asked to design posters reflecting one of the themes, and the best of these were displayed at the main conference. A one-day version of the schools programme was subsequently delivered at two further schools, at Nyoma and Puga, which include a large intake from nomadic communities.

The conference also included a fieldtrip to a range of classic geological, geographical, sustainable development and heritage sites within the Ladakh region. 

Conference outputs

The Governor of Jammu & Kashmir State addressing the audience

We were delighted to welcome to the opening session of the conference His Excellency Shri N N Vohra, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir State, and Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies.

In welcoming the delegates, both spoke knowledgeably about the themes of the conference, and encouraged the organisers to draw on the presentations and discussions among the scientists and practitioners present to generate materials which will be useful to local communities and policy-makers.

The Geological Society and the University of Jammu are committed to ensuring that the conference has a practical legacy, as well as advancing scientific understanding. We will produce a policy briefing on the main themes and conclusions of the conference, and we are delighted that the Governor and the Minister have indicated their wish to continue a dialogue about these issues with those involved in the conference. The conference will also lead to publication of scientific papers.

Booklets in English covering the course content of the schools programme were provided to participating schools and students. We hope also to produce basic useful information for local communities, written in their own language.

The full conference programme is available to download in the box to the right.

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Speaker presentations

A number of the speaker presentations are available to download. Click on the links below for more information:

Tuesday 24 June:
Session theme: The geological framework of the Himalaya

David Shilston addressing the audience

Wednesday 25 June:
Session theme: Living in a changing environment

Session theme: Sustainable Resources

Short Subject Presentations

Jonathan Craig addressing the audienceThursday 26 June:
Session theme: Natural Hazards and Risks

Session theme: Tourism Opportunities and Challenges (Mountain, Heritage, Cultural and Sensitive Environments)

Student programme sponsors

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Sustainable Resource in the Himalaya

Event Details

Date: 24-26 June 2014
Venue: The Grand Dragon Hotel, Leh, Ladakh, India


(Speaker presentations & Press Cuttings are also available to download below)

Related Links


Photo Gallery

Himalaya Schools

View Geology for Global Development's photos of the conference and schools workshops.