SERVIR-Himalaya empowers Nepalese youth

10 Mar 2014

A SERVIR-Himalaya Youth forum titled ‘Empowering Youth with Earth Observation Information for Climate Actions in Nepal’ was held at Asian Institute of Technology and Management (AITM) from 16 to 20 December 2013.

The event was jointly organized by ICIMOD in collaboration with Asian Institute of Technology and Management (AITM) and the Nepal GIS Society (NGISS) as part SERVIR-Himalaya Initiative supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

More than 40 youths from different parts of Nepal from various backgrounds (forestry, hydrology, geomatics, engineering, and biodiversity) took part in the event. The objective of the event was to educate them about climate change and its challenges, and how these issues could be addressed through geospatial science and earth observation.

During the five-day event, the participants learnt about glaciers, snow, forest fire, and crop monitoring. They were given hands-on training in using satellite-based tools developed by SERVIR. They also learnt ways to map the issues and disseminate these maps online as ‘story maps’ through social media.

A full day was spent with Kathmandu Living Labs on using Open Street Map and GPS technologies to monitor and crowd source environmental issues. At the same time, participants developed their own creative research ideas and geospatial applications.

Speaking at the opening of the Forum, Director Programme Operations of ICIMOD, Dr Eklabya Sharma, said vulnerability is a major issue arising as a result of climate change in the mountains of the Himalayan region.

The climate change specialist and coordinator of the SERVIR project from USAID, Jenny Frankel Reed, talked about SERVIR’s aim to use geospatial science and earth observation to act on climate change issues. She encouraged the young participants to take action and make use of information provided by science to think critically and work on creating impact on the ground.

Gwendolyn Artis of NASA thanked the youth participants for becoming ambassadors of SERVIR’s work and helping NASA and USAID to create a better environment and combat climate change.

Delivering the keynote address, ICIMOD’s Senior Manager Basanta Shrestha highlighted the vulnerability and fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem. He talked about the many challenges of climate change and the need to address them.

“However, technology provides numerous opportunities in tackling these issues, and part of this technological advancement is the full gamut of possibilities earth observation provides that can help to observe, monitor, and gather precise information on matters such as glacier melt, glacial lake outburst floods, snow, atmosphere, black carbon, and forest fire,” he said.