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A conventional approach for the natural scientist

Much of the debate running through several of the chapters of this book has highlighted, if not actually centred on, the problem of uncertainty. One tenet of this theme has been our very attempt to expose and dispose of the many 'sacred cows' upon which the Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation appears to depend. A second tenet, closely interwoven with the first, is the unreliability of those data that are available whether they be on the role of forest cover in protecting the soil surface from erosion, the sediment load of streams, or calculations of the life expectancy at birth of subsistence peoples, or especially, the impacts on the plains of land-use changes in the mountains.

Before introducing a conventional approach to narrowing the degree of uncertainty enshrouding this highland-lowland, or downstream impacts component, let us emphasize two conflicting positions. It could be argued that the difficulties in the face of obtaining time-series data on hydrology and sedimentation are so enormous that it is best to forget the whole idea as Utopian, or academic. A small illustrative example in this respect is Byers's (1987c) analysis of the reliability of the existing precipitation data from Namche Bazar. The recording of rainfall, even snowfall for the most part, is usually conceived as simple, routine, not requiring any special skills. Byers was very puzzled with apparent conflicts between his assessment of the occurrence of relatively high-intensity precipitation events and the longer-term station data. For instance, a 90 mm water-equivalent event in January at Namche Bazar must be, in fact, a measurement of snow depth that should have been divided by anything between 10 and 20 to provide water equivalent. And when two rain gauges within 500 m horizontal distance record 3 mm and 92 mm respectively, we cannot equate this with high site-specific variability. And stories of small village boys urinating in erosion study plot rain gauges are too numerous to be amusing any more. Thus, we may have to face up to the fact that any data collection programme will not provide a meaningful response to reducing uncertainty.

The conflicting position is the difficulty we expect to be facing in convincing the vested interest group with our argument that the activities of mountain people are insignificant in their effects on the patterns of lowland flooding and siltation. This is the rather more important of the two positions simply because we believe it essential to remove the mountain subsistence farmers from their unenviable role as convenient scapegoat.

Thus, with all the caution and scepticism we should have culled from the preparation of chapters I to 7, we nevertheless recommend a conventional approach to trying to determine the downstream impacts of human activities in the mountains. At least it will result in the training of cadres of hydrologists, glaciologists, climatologists, and geomorphologists, and human sciences scholars. It must also be borne in mind that, should the present rate of population growth and poor land management be maintained over the next two to five decades, then human interventions in the mountains may well begin to have a detectable impact on the plains.

Thus we propose the need for a regional and long-term programme to measure and monitor selected watersheds along the great Himalayan arc. This would involve systematic observation of standard climatic parameters, streamflow, and sediment load, themselves related to different types of surface cover and land use. This should be augmented at relevant localities with a series of site-specific studies that will be enumerated below.

What are the Problems?

Since a great deal of research is being undertaken in the Himalayan region, it is reasonable to ask why this is not sufficient or why it cannot be adapted to meet the stated needs and so obviate the labour and expense of superimposing a new research structure. While much co-operation can surely be anticipated from ongoing researchers there are some problems.

1. Most of the existing research projects are too narrowly defined; they reflect a specific interest and often a process of one-way thinking. What is needed is a systematic and more nearly inter-disciplinary approach tilted at seeking to understand the magnitude and intensity of key processes.

2. Most of the existing research is too local, without any real correlation to the broad regional-scale problems. Even if the fieldwork of our proposed scheme will involve point measurements in specific localities, they should fit into a regional concept.

3. Most of the existing research projects are limited in duration. Long-term data series are needed so that natural oscillations, for example, of precipitation, streamflow, and sediment load, can be distinguished from growing human impacts on the environment, in terms of streamflow and sediment load.

4. Research to date has suffered under the pressure of the demands of international and national agencies for rapid actions - better yesterday than today - that urgent decision making needs an immediate response. This attitude destroys the opportunity for augmenting our basic understanding of key processes and long-term thinking required for rational decision making rather than decision making based on the perceived need to spend so many million dollars by next Friday. The question is no longer: what is basic research and what is applied research? The transition becomes more and more fluid; application-oriented basic research is required: the participatory action research of Griffin (1987).

5. In the Himalayan region national borders play a very important, and usually negative role. Rivers carry water and sediment load across these national borders, and scientific and practical problems with them; the political difficulties must not be underestimated since they lie at the core of all other problems. However, a regional research scheme may facilitate the progressive breakdown in the negative role of national borders. Current examples of trans-border research provide grounds for optimism; for instance, the China-Nepal proposed study of the Arun watershed; the ChinaPakistan-Royal Geographical Society research in the Karakorum; IndiaNepal trans-border research. A supra-national and regional research programme may facilitate the rapid expansion of this process that has admittedly been very slow to develop, and may serve to further reduce border tension. (This notion is the basis for the Mohonk Mountain Conference resolution recommending establishment of international parks.)

Outline for a Regional and Long-term Research Strategy

Any strategy will have to accommodate vastly different scales of research, from the village, to the micro- and meso-watershed, even to the macrowatershed. However, with careful planning and inter-linking of various investigations, this problem of scale interrelationship can be overcome. A broad framework is illustrated in Figure 10.2. Small, site-specific studies can be integrated into a whole if the overall requirements are detailed first.

As a first approach, a group of Himalayan countries should select a mesoscale watershed that includes a section of the Tibetan Plateau, and all the mountain belts, and so down to the Indo-Gangetic Plain. There are many sets of criteria, some conflicting, that can be identified for the selection of such a watershed and some possibly overriding considerations will have to be taken into account. These include existing research and data, accessibility, access to electric power, available topographic maps and satellite imagery, political sensitivity of border-crossing points, and the possibility of currently existing development needs. As an example of the final point, the Arun-Kosi system can be introduced. The prospects for development of a two-billion dollar Arun hydroelectric cascade scheme in Nepal, and the advanced stage of negotiations between China and Nepal for an international expedition would indicate that this watershed should be carefully considered for inclusion in the strategy proposed here. We would suspect that any rational planning for the expenditure of huge sums of international aid money on a succession of hydroelectric facilities on the Arun would also stipulate the need for the type of integrated watershed research we are proposing, the more so because an unknown number of a group of fifty or more glacier lakes on the Chinese side of the watershed have the potential for catastrophic break-out for putting at risk any development infrastructure further downstream (Ives, 1986; Vuichard and Zimmermann 1987).

Figure 10.2 Schematic representation of three different scales of research.

Regardless of the choice of watershed, one condition of our scheme is that a main research station should be located on the border between the mountains and the plain, a critical point for any long-term investigation of the possible downstream effects of human land-use changes in the mountains. There is no need to describe the myriad of details of such a scheme here. It is obvious that the main station at the transition from mountains to plain will require facilities for long-term, high-quality observations on stream flow and sediment load including solutes and bed load. This would be linked with a minimal network of observation stations in the extensively utilized high mountains and plateaus, and the intensively utilized Middle Mountains, foothills, and plain. A third component would include the organization of experimental watersheds at different altitudes, and with different slope angles and aspect, vegetation, and land-use types. Here routine climatological, hydrological, and geomorphological data should be collected from sites selected to become focal points for a full range of human science research: analysis of both the negative and the positive impacts of the subsistence farmer on slope stability; indigenous coping strategies and environmental perceptions, nutrition, and general physical quality of life indicators; migration trends; linkage between perceived needs and appropriate methodologies as well as appropriate technology transfers; land tenure and taxation patterns; and landscape change through time, including the utilization of replicate photography and historical research methods.

Of course, under ideal circumstances, several watersheds should be selected, giving a range of studies from the drier regions of the west to the eastern Himalaya that are most heavily deluged by the summer monsoon. Other vital requisites for success include absolute comparability between field sites in instrumentation, data tabulation, and analysis, and total accessibility of all the data and research findings. While different components of this rather large scheme would be initiated by different agencies, national and international, university and private, it should have a scientific co-ordinating body at the international level: it should be closely linked with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu.

We estimate that the scheme would also require the contributions of both regional and extra-regional universities. This should lead to a deliberate and ambitious training and educational component. Other facets would include provision for direct contributions to development agencies and for input by local village-level leadership. Finally, publication of results at various levels would be expected, ranging from the popular news media in various languages, to the scientific literature, to the practical manuals of development agencies. The very establishment of such a scheme should have immediate, world wide significance.

Figure 10.3 provides a generalized graphic representation of the approach we have outlined above. The topography has obviously been simplified. The overall structure, however, lends itself to data acquisition and dissemination and the grafting on of additional specific research tasks identified as the need arises. One such example that we believe to be pressing is the identification and monitoring of glacier- and moraine-dammed lakes, such as the Dig Tsho at the snout of the Langmoche Glacier in Khumbu Himal which broke out and destroyed the Namche small hydel project in August 1985 (p. 70). Further, as indicated by Gordon Young at the Mohonk Mountain Conference, rational utilization of high mountain water resources of the Himalayan region requires a firmly based glaciological programme tied to a regional institutional research and training structure. Such a development would fit in well with the scheme proposed here.

Figure 10.3 Highland-lowland interaction. A schematic outline for a research strategy in the Himalayan region for a better understanding of the downstream effects: precipitation, runoff, sediment load, soil erosion.

Implementation failure caused by institutional problems

One of our great concerns is the apparently large extent of lack of success in the implementation of development projects due to institutional problems. While this, of course, is a further indicator supporting our insistence on multiple problem definition/multiple solution definition, it is appropriate to take a closer look at the specific issue of institutional problems. We are approaching this here through the personal contribution of one of the Mohonk Conference participants, David Griffin (1987).

Institutional problems often lie at the heart of failures to implement satisfactorily a wide range of development activities. Here various components of 'institutions', broadly defined, are discussed along with some problems which are important in a practical sense.

Our aim is not simply to consider as an intellectual exercise the problems of the Himalayan region. It is to identify some of the key features of a developing crisis and then to suggest elements necessary for remedial action. Action programmes require some means of implementation and this usually involves institutions, broadly defined, as key components. However, there is now widespread recognition that institutions are not only a necessary component in problem resolution and in development but are also an important hindrance to both. This 'institutional problem', therefore, is relevant to our strategy.

Let us first consider the issue from the side of those involved in purveying development assistance. These can be grouped in a number of ways but, for our purposes, a simplistic division into: (1) academics; (2) agencies; and (3) practitioners will suffice. By academics (1) we do not mean only those employed in universities. Many in research institutions and in a multiplicity of 'think-tanks' also follow the well-established procedures of academic enquiry and analysis. They study a situation and, ideally, reveal much of real value, based on well-validated data. Recommendations for appropriate action are made and too often the task is then thought to be complete. The more action-oriented academic will follow up the recommendations to see if they have sunk without trace or have been implemented by some agency somewhere. In the latter case, implementation will usually have been found to be a dubious success or an outright failure.

Often, the good intentions of recommendations fail to have the desired effect because institutional problems were ignored. In most cases, if a recommendation is to have effect, there must be an institutional system to implement it, or at least to commence implementation. Here naively is rampant. Consider the following examples. Many major environmental problems are undoubtedly trans-national. In an ideal world, the solution would come from whole-hearted co-operation between nations, but this cannot be assumed. Indeed, it would be better to assume the reverse. A reluctance to tackle environmental problems trans-nationally, in fact and not just on paper, is not restricted to developing countries as shown by problems with whale-hunting and so-called acid rain. National interests in a trans-national problem are varied and altruism is limited. With such a background, it is not surprising that trans-national institutions to implement action are something of a rarity - at least in comparison with such organizations that undertake research, for research involves no commitment to implementation. The writer of resolutions should be wary, therefore, of routes assuming trans-national implementation.

A second example relates to integrated development. There is such intellectual force behind the idea that the development of a region depends upon joint activity in, say, agriculture, forestry, water management, health, and physical infrastructure that it is no wonder that integrated development has been vigorously advocated. Yet how many examples of real success are there - far fewer than of failure to attain anything like the original goal. Is this surprising when in most countries there are no powerful institutional arrangements for such programmes? In developed countries, conflicts within the bureaucracy are almost standard and an inter-departmental committee is as good a way as any to kill an idea when it is to the clear advantage of no single department to foster it. Why should anyone expect developing countries to be better in this regard? Even if a 'mega-department'is created, only very strong guidance from the top will prevent sectoral differences resurfacing.

The lesson to be learned from all this is that, in most cases, programmes should be designed for implementation by existing institutions of appropriate power. This is not to say that such institutions at the outset need be adequate technically or administratively, for they can be improved. (We will return to this point later.) They must, however, have sufficient power, politically and in a bureaucratic sense, to permit effective initiation.

It has been said that it is unjust when a beautiful theory is destroyed by a miserable fact. This surely applies to the 'trickle-down' theory of development. Much economic argument showed that financial aid applied at the top (factory construction, infrastructure, etc) would sooner or later benefit the poor as economic development was stimulated: a beautiful theory destroyed in part by the miserable facts of self-interest and corruption, institutional or individual, which provide an effective filter against such benefits'trickling-down' very far. This leads to the thought that institutional power must also be linked to a certain minimal amount of institutional will in key places. If corruption, or any other negative factor, exceeds dedication to the task, nothing will be accomplished (a reminder of Gyawali's milli-gandhis and milli-theresas).

The second group of actors on the donor side are the development assistance agencies (2), including specialized banks (included here are official and semiofficial agencies; NGOs are excluded from this discussion, although this is not intended to under-rate their importance). These are bureaucracies in their own right and might be expected to see with clarity institutional problems for development. There is little evidence that this is so in practice, again in contrast to theory. Large schemes presupposing inter-departmental cooperation are frequent even though a few minuses' thought would show that a comparable programme would have scant chance of success in the proposer's own developed country. We suspect that the force of fashion is at least partly to blame for such schemes getting off the ground. An idea originates in academe ,gains strength and eventually political support, and then has a momentum of its own. Institutional appropriateness seems to disappear.

Another set of institutional problems relating to agencies arise from what can be considered as issues of scale. Here there is a fundamental contradiction. As an example, let us take deforestation and forest degradation. This problem is widespread as we have strongly emphasized yet its causation is various even within one nation: the strategies, and especially the precise tactics, for its solution are still more diverse, especially in the Himalayan region with its great differences in altitude, aspect, climate, population density, history, and ethnicity. Plans of action therefore need to be as 'fine-grained' as the exact nature of the problem they address. Effective programmes will be characterized by proper attention to this matter of scale and may need to be appropriately localized.

If, however, a policy is adopted which is based on the above argument, it can be argued that it will never meet the widespread and critical need within an acceptable time-frame. Only large-scale action will suffice, and this latter route appears to be that favoured by the multilateral and large bilateral agencies. Indeed, it is easy to understand why, by their very nature, they are unsuited to a 'fine-grained' approach. Yet there must be grave doubts whether a coarsegrained, large-scale philosophy can ever satisfactorily solve a fine-grained problem. This issue of appropriateness of scale (also raised in a somewhat different context in Figure 10.2) is highly contentious but, nevertheless, is of fundamental importance to development. A corollary to this matter of scale is that the large-scale route seems in practice to rule out an evolutionary approach. Worthwhile development must have, in our view, a large component of venturing into the unknown. (Please note that throughout we have avoided the term 'technical assistance'.) If the pathway were truly clear, there would probably be no problem and development would have already occurred. In fact, development is an evolution and its pathway has unexpected twists and turns and its useful goal may not be exactly the one first set. Yet flexibility is inversely related to scale.

Simplistic development projects - and they are simplistic however complex the computerized pathways - usually ignore institutional problems. Recipient government departments, however powerful, are often in no state at the outset to implement and sustain a given development activity. Suppose that the territorial divisions of the forestry sector in a country have traditionally had two predominant roles, the regulation of timber harvesting from natural forest for commercial purposes and the protection (largely through prosecution) of the forest from peasant incursions. Suppose further that both that country's government and a donor agency have seen a new light. Community forestry is to be the new order and a project for its implementation is devised. If evolution over years is permitted and fixed quantitative targets are eschewed, all may be well. If, however, a slow beginning and gradual development are not part of the plan, pity the poor Divisional Forest Officer! He probably has little knowledge of planted forests, even less of the complex socio-economic milieu of community forestry. His expatriate counterparts are probably in no better state in regard to the latter issue. Worse, the majority of his field staff have been little more than forest policemen throughout their employment. Most lack all appropriate technical knowledge for forestation and are now in any case temperamentally unable to make the large jump from policeman to extension agent (from control to assistance). Administratively things are no better, for the existing rules and regulations, accounting procedures and budget were designed when no one dreamt of an active afforestation programme. Morale is not helped by the fact that funding is sufficient to permit staff to be out of their office and in the forest for only a few days a month. (Extra walking requires more food and occasions more wear and tear on clothes and this necessitates per diem supplements for fieldwork.)

However sympathetic the senior departmental staff, such a situation takes years to remedy. Many of the issues cannot really be seen in advance of the commencement of implementation of the project. Then, progressively, they become all too apparent and the institution and the project have to evolve together. A major function of expatriate project staff, supported by their funding agency, should be to offer sympathetic encouragement and advice to help in institutional transformation. Projects with such a component seem rare. This need for institutional development is being more widely appreciated.

Mere existence or execution of successful programmes or projects is not enough to ensure their continuity. They need to be able to create around them, or within them, an organizational structure and an appropriate institutional base to allow continuing internal and external official support to them. (FAO, 1985)

Nonetheless, progress is woefully slow and most agencies probably fail to include an appropriate institution-developing component lest they be thought to be endeavouring to interfere in the 'infernal affairs' of another country.

Another deficiency in project planning is a failure to get right the appropriate institutional linkages. Suppose, in a certain country, the need for significant improvement in research and development in all aspects of the forestry sector was identified and a project was set in train to establish de novo a research institute in forestry. Administratively, let us place the institute within a government forestry department and provide it with equipment relevant to all aspects of the sector, including harvesting, wood science, and timber processing. Further, let us staff it appropriately, only to find that the staff have great difficulty in gaining access to mills, conversion plants, and the economic data of product sales and exports. Why? - because the forestry sector, in fact, is divided in two. The first part, the government department's part, is concerned essentially with forest aspects up to the marking of trees for felling. Harvesting through to product sale is the responsibility of an autonomous corporation: and the department and corporation are separated by a nigh-on impenetrable wall. The corporation sees institute staff as belonging to the department. The staff in the utilization area, and the results of their work, are therefore largely ignored by that component of the sector which ought to benefit. Clearly the initial linkage established was wrong and strong and difficult actions will be needed to remedy the situation.

Practitioners (3) in our terms are those who implement projects. (Wearing another hat, they may also propose and write projects and therefore contribute significantly to the problems discussed in preceding paragraphs.) Most practitioners, whether overtly commercial companies or consortia of tertiary education institutions, are in fact engaging in development activities for primarily commercial considerations. Only a few, outside, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have other and not necessarily more altruistic motives. Further, most are appointed to implement projects already devised by others and described in formal project documents. Flexibility is often minimal, outside of set mid-project reviews. It is then all too likely that the practitioners will accept the stated project design, warts and all. Beneficial institutional change is unlikely and the project collapses as soon as the expatriates withdraw, if not before.

In all the above, our criticism is aimed at those of us who live in developed countries. We will now speak more briefly on developing countries. Again a tripartite division is possible: (1) agencies (usually government departments); (2) practitioners (project officers in central administrations and project comanagers in the field); and (3) the local populace.

Institutional deficiencies certainly abound in developing countries. In the face of such a situation, it is too easy to throw up one's hands in despair but in most countries this is not warranted. Institutional deficiencies, after all, are at the core of underdevelopment and need to be taken into account and tackled.

In most cases, the social order of a country will be reflected in the very nature of its institutions. This is widely recognized for centrally planned economies but is less so for the rest of the world. All too easily we assume that institutional organization elsewhere largely mirrors that in our own country, when in fact it mirrors its own society. The more we understand the history and society of a country, the more we shall understand its institutions. Institutional change is unlikely to proceed rapidly ahead of societal change.

Most bureaucrats in developing countries are keenly aware of the institutional framework within which they work: their promotion and even survival depends upon this. Knowing the system well, it is no wonder that high senior officials in central offices and potential co-managers in the field look with scant enthusiasum on project proposals which take no account of important practical aspects. Innumerable delays and lost files may then be an almost unconscious response to a proposal that is likely to cause little but trouble because it is essentially not implementable within the existing administrative and financial control systems. An implementation failure may have serious career implications, particularly in a country where it is less reprehensible to do nothing than to make a mistake. Delays and prevarications, therefore, may sometimes be ultimately beneficial if they cause re-thinking or even cancellation of a proposal. If, through donor enthusiasm, an institutionally inappropriate project is implemented, it is likely to draw little more than perfunctory activity from recipient-country staff. Expatriate staff will also soon become frustrated or disillusioned by their inability to make the bureaucratic machinery work in ways for which it was not designed. As before, the answer surely is to let the project and institution evolve together. If this is impossible, then the project should not commence.

Adequacy of developing-country staff, in terms of both quality, quantity, and job classification, is a vexed issue. Quantity and classification are inseparable because numbers required cannot be determined before the necessary balance between professional, technical, and vocational levels has been established. This is by no means a simple issue and there is a marked tendency to establish a balance reflecting past rather than future operations. Improvement in quality must be long term and would seem to be most easily achieved at lower levels. Such an expectation is in fact contradicted by many cases where vocationallevel training has proven to be a most intractable problem embedded in larger structural issues. Training at this level is often disastrously divorced from action. It tends to take place in institutions remote from employers and uses ideas and even equipment not current in their place of employment. If, however, training is closely integrated with employment, it can be outstandingly successful.

Some of the ramifications of poor education have great institutional consequences. Thus if the standard of education is generally low in a country, then the base for adequate recruitment becomes extremely narrow: narrow not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of geography. The best educational opportunities will lie in the main cities so that the developing bureaucracy becomes increasingly urban and remote from rural issues. The understanding of such issues by bureaucrats then becomes no better than that of expatriates. Before long, a posting to a remote, or even non-urban, area is looked upon as a punishment - and often is so in fact. Rural development cannot flourish in these circumstances.

Finally, let us reintroduce the concept stipulating that the local populace in a project area are not so much part of a problem as part of a solution. If significant opposition from residents to an environmentally related project is experienced, then there is probably something wrong with project design and often with institutional factors. The fault may be in too rapid a timetable imposed by donor or recipient; in a failure to appreciate local, perhaps informal, institutional realities so that proper linkages are not developed; an invalid assumption on the availability of staff with sympathy for local needs; or a host of other factors (including the possibility that the project is just simply wrong in fundamental design).

We could continue almost indefinitely, but we hope that we have made a case for placing institutional matters sensu lato high on the priority list when problems such as those facing the Himalayan region are under consideration.

Himalayan development: development for whom?

It is apparent that mountain development is one side of the same coin of which environmental protection is the other: 'development' will never be successful unless it is environmentally (and socially) sound. We feel that, from many perspectives, development policy has largely failed despite very large inputs in time, expertise, financial resources, and goodwill over the past three or four decades. We have concluded that poverty (under-development), however related to a rapid increase in mountain populations, is a central explanation for increased pressure of production on natural resources to the point that serious environmental degradation has been occurring over a period of hundreds, rather than tens, of years, albeit more in some areas than others. Thus government efforts to reduce the pressure on natural resources are set to fail unless a core objective is the improvement in the well-being of the subsistence farmer, which means a reduction in the degree of poverty. Thus we propose that a radical change in access to resources and, consequently, a shift in the direction of the flow of benefits from resource development is a prerequisite to problem solving in the Himalayan region. We believe that this will only be achieved by a radical change in the mind-set of the 'developers', the adoption of the multiple problem definition/multiple solution approach. Sunderlal Bahuguna, in summarizing his impressions from his 5,000 km, 300-day walk through the Himalaya, shows the most sensitive and intimate approach to the problem that we have so far uncovered. We quote a short concluding section from his report to UNICEF:

The Himalayan crisis is not an isolated event. It has roots in the materialistic civilization, in the spiral of demands, ever-increasing but never satisfied. Even the renewable resources become non-renewable due to over exploitation. The air and water pollution, acid rains and barren stretches, familiar today in many countries, are the gifts of this civilization.

The immediate need is to preserve whatever forests remain but the viable answer to the ecological imbalance is to adopt a new development strategy in which man and nature coexist in harmony. This in turn is possible only if small communities are allowed to meet their own basic needs. The perils of centralized production systems were anticipated at the beginning of this century. As we move towards its end, the challenge is to implement a programme of survival, to which the life-supporting role of forests is integral.

Alternate sources of fuel and energy and efficient ways of using them are known. There is also no lack of expertise in proper forest management. But there is little identity of interest as between the people and those who control forests and other resources [our emphasis]. The only way to redeem forests from the combination of corrupting contractors, corrupt politicians and corruptible officials is to vest their control openly with the community, with government in an overseeing role. It would then be possible to protect and 'exploit' them in a socially acceptable manner; and to summon the blessings of science in the service of the people. (Bahuguna, 1983:10)

This does not imply that the way ahead is therefore simple. When the subsistence farmer is hungry, environment and culture become remote considerations. How often have we heard a farmer patiently explain: yes, I know this or that practice is bad, but I have to feed my children tomorrow? Nevertheless, Bahuguna, in broadening the issue to the world at large, re-opens the opportunity for gift exchange - we have so much to learn from the surviving traditional and environmental knowledge of the subsistence mountain farmer. And we are concerned that, even given singular success in the generation of political will and supra-national co-operation and teamwork, many still unquestioned assumptions lay in ambush to snare possible advances. As a corollary to a clear identification that mountain development must be aimed primarily for, and in conjunction with, mountain people, therefore, we state the need to continue to question hitherto unquestioned assumptions.

In conclusion we list a number of specific topics for possible inclusion into a supra-national, region-wide research strategy formulation:

1. The identification and testing of alternative quantitative models for a better understanding of population-resources-environment-development interrelationships, especially their accumulative complex, dynamic and qualitative aspects in mountain regions.

2. Examination of the nature of population pressure in different situations throughout the Himalayan region. How can high population pressures be accommodated? What are the effects and extent of migration and depopulation? What 'carrying capacity' models can be applied?

3. Analysis of current developments in the agricultural system and investigation of possible palliative responses. What are the most promising forms of innovative agriculture? How can subsistence agriculture be strengthened?

4. What are the causes and effects of changes in livestock numbers and quality? What potential is there for traditional pastoralism? What are the various conditions of grazing in different parts of the region?

5. Examination of the current status of shifting agriculture (swiddening) in different parts of the region. What alternatives are there?

6. What are the causes of the deepening poverty situation? What mechanisms exist for the provision of basic needs? How far is ill health a cause and how far a consequence of this situation?

7. How far are least-developed situations emerging in the Himalaya? What is the relationship of least-developed status to foreign trade? What are the demographic and environmental implications of exports and imports, and what modifications could usefully be made in trade strategies?

8. Identification of the most deprived groups in the region. What is the position of women and young people? How can these groups be incorporated into the development process?

9. What are the costs and benefits of tourism? How can adjustments be effected to reduce the costs and augment the benefits?

10. Examination of institutional constraints. What kind of reforms are needed and what kind can be attempted?

11. How far are early warning and prevention services developed for disasters (man-made and natural)? How can they be improved?

12. What kinds of social forestry schemes assist best in reforestation and in improving the lot of the local people? What problems have these schemes faced?

13. Are multi-national industry activities increasing? What are the implications for the welfare of the poor and for the environment?

14. How can the IUCN national conservation strategy concept be extended and intensified?

15. Establish a catalogue of different cultural and sub-cultural frameworks in relation to the problems of population-resources-environmentdevelopment. Identify valuable traditional components.

16. How can grass roots, self-reliant movements and community participation be encouraged and/or strengthened? What roles can women and young people play in them?

17. Establish a systematic process, including centralized archiving, of collection and replication of old photographs and sketches to provide some basic documentation of environmental change.

18. In what ways can the telecommunications revolution be utilized in problem solving in the Himalaya? What forms of communication should receive priority? What applications can be made in the context of education and local culture?

19. Analysis of pragmatic criteria for successful intersectoral and integrated action programmes. What new forms of action research are needed?

20. To what extent can holistic analysis of large-scale resource development projects be initiated?

21. What kinds of innovative planning models and approaches are most appropriate?

We re-emphasize, therefore, that there is no further value to be gained from debating whether we are facing an imminent supercrisis or a large array of regional and sub-regional crises. The socio-economic, political, and environmental problems will tend to come together. There is a present danger that, once a threshold is passed, then malnutrition, warfare, and environmental collapse, will feed upon each other. This is supercrisis! Yet we believe the issues can be defined, uncertainty can be both reduced and realigned, and supercrisis can be averted. Above all, as the quotation from Sunderlal Bahuguna would indicate, the Himalayan Problem is not a problem, or set of problems, unique to the Himalaya, it is an aspect of the non-functioning of late-twentiethcentury civilization as a whole. Despite the enormous challenge facing the formulation of an effective regional approach, there is opportunity for a new initiative that can have repercussions far beyond this complex region. The essence of the Resolutions of the Mohonk Mountain Conference must carry the final word:

Resolution 1

The Mohonk Mountain Conference recognizes the special role of the Himalaya as a unique part of the world cultural heritage and wishes to draw international attention to the critical importance of its spiritual contribution to the well-being of the world community.

Resolution 2

The Mohonk Mountain Conference reaffirms that a serious situation has been developing in the Himalayan region for several decades. This relates to the progressive environmental deterioration and a pronounced decline in the standard of living for many of the peoples affected, particularly the mountain peoples. One aspect is the rapid increase in total population in relation to available agricultural and forest land. Taking this into consideration, it is resolved that an international conference be convened as soon as possible to further examine the issues and to recommend an urgent course of action.

It is also resolved that a small working group be formed to develop an action research design and to lay the groundwork for the proposed conference. The working group should be formed by the International Mountain Society in cooperation with the United Nations University, the East-West Center, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and other organizations.

Resolution 3

Realizing that nature recognizes no international boundaries and that many of the issues and challenges facing development and conservation cannot be dealt with adequately without co-operation between countries of the Himalayan region, the Mohonk Mountain Conference strongly urges the governments of the Himalayan region to take steps to establish international parks in border areas (Parks for Peace) to promote peace, friendship, and co-operation in research and management, for the optimal sustainable use of the natural and human resources, and to improve the quality of life of all the peoples of the region.

Resolution 4

The Mohonk Mountain Conference endorses efforts by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to develop a documentation centre and to improve the dissemination of vital information on the region, particularly relating to hydrology and sediment transfer. It is recommended that these efforts be accelerated and that links be established with other appropriate institutions.

Resolution 5

The Mohonk Mountain Conference welcomes the recent initiative of the World Resources Institute, the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme in establishing a tropical forest action plan which should facilitate efforts to deal with the comprehensive land-use aspects of the problem facing the Himalayan region, and calls upon donors to provide the appropriate support.


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