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Lawmakers, experts take up mountain-specific growth model

Shillong, Nov 4 (IANS) Lawmakers, environmentalists and entrepreneurs have started brain storming here on a mountain-specific development model, which will ensure social, economic and ecological well-being of the people in the Himalayan region.The eighth edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS-VIII) of the Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), a New Delhi-based civil society policy advocacy platform of the mountain states, has begun.Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma inaugurated the two-day summit and stressed the need for better collaboration among entrepreneurs to build an ecosystem that could help create economic opportunities for all in the Himalayan region. "There had been enough talks. It's now time to act. We need to convert our talks and policies into actions and solutions," Sangma said pointing to huge gaps between theories and practices. The linkages between policies and action at the grassroots could only be bridged through entrepreneurship, he added.This edition of summit focuses on pressing issues of youth employment and challenges of building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to channelise the bubbling energy and aspiration of the youth."Promoting entrepreneurship is the key to link government policies with grassroots to create the economy of future, which will be resilient as well sustainable," he said highlighting the urgency to promote the potential of youth for the future which is likely to be disrupted by climate change and emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI)."We need to prepare ourselves, particularly the youth, to make them able to cope with disruptions and find ways to build resilient green economy," Sangma noted.The Chief Minister also released a IMI document, "Assessing the Changing Entrepreneurship Landscape in the Indian Himalayan Region", which was prepared in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, and shared his government's vision for Meghalaya.Ekalabya Sharma of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a Kathmandu-based international think-tank, presented a comprehensive picture of the Himalayan region that is facing the rising challenges of climate change-induced loss of water, biodiversity, poverty and malnutrition."A large section of population is haunted by growing poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to electricity, etc. Unless the challenges of climate change are not faced resolutely, in the next decade one-third of glaciers and two-third of endemic species of the Himalayan region would vanish," Sharma said quoting the Hindu Kush Himalaya assessment report.Stressing the need of cooperation at all levels, he said, "Conservation of water and biodiversity are critical to the sustenance of economy and ecosystem services of the Hindukush Himalayan region. If Amazon is the lungs of the earth, the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region is the pulse of the planet."IMI president Sushil Ramola said, the SMDS-VIII had identified four themes with 'sustainability' as central idea -- such as sustainable agriculture, tourism, food processing and business -- all designed to be connected with an ecosystem that created successful entrepreneurship.He said the IMI is engaged with the Niti Aayog as well as other partners, like ICIMOD, GB Pant Institute, to develop pathways for sustainable development of the region."We are working towards creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem that can integrate all the components -- policies, funding, market access, capacity building for the youth," Ramola said.
--IANS rrk/rs/pcj

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