This MRI-funded synthesis workshop, held virtually in April, addressed renewable energy transitions in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH), Andes and Alps.

Jointly sponsored by the MRI and ICIMOD Himalayan University Consortium, and coordinated by the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the workshop brought together experts and participants, including young professionals, to discuss conceptual and applied case-study topics and prepare a series of video blogs (vlogs). The workshop will lead to future exchanges, publications and policy-brief outputs on the state of energy transitions in mountains globally.

With an emphasis on renewable energy (small-scale hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass) in the context of climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, Andes and Alps, workshop organizers sought to improve understanding of challenges and opportunities for energy transitions in mountains; foster inter-regional dialogue, especially on the role of hydropower and other emergent renewable energy sources in mountain energy transitions; and initiate a mountain energy transitions community of practice, providing opportunities for follow-on exchanges.

To this end, workshop attendees engaged in virtual presentations and interactive exchange, which resulted in a great deal of common understanding of shared experiences along with recognition of major differences among mountain regions. The following vlogs were one highlight of the workshop. 

Clean energy transition of Isolated communities in Mendoza by Sebastián Riera Yankeliovich (Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina)


Access the video via this link here

Energy ecosystem for the transition towards a low carbon society in HKH region, Biraj Singh Thapa, Kathmandu University, Nepal


Energy transition Swiss Alps, Elke Kellner, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL

Energy Transition in South Asia, Medha Bisht, South Asian University, India

 Flood and hydropower, Padmendra Shrestha, University of Arizona, USA

"We achieved our aims, though follow-on will be important to sustain," said workshop organizer Chris Scott of the University of Arizona.  

The workshop drew on multiple perspectives of researchers, practitioners, agencies and NGOs in an effort to bridge the experiences and challenges of critical mountain regions globally. It contributed to mountain research by analyzing the scale, feasibility, and local control of hydropower plants. "The planning stage of hydropower development must move toward implementation, with special attention to operations and maintenance, rural power supply, environmental protection, relocation/resettlement with social equity and rural revitalization," shares Scott. 

Workshop attendees discussed how governance of energy transitions involves, among other factors, decision-making, decentralization, and risk impact and assessment: "Overcoming energy poverty will require expanded access, localization, and community-centered development with emphasis on sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development frameworks." They also identified challenges of renewable energy transitions, which include supply diversification; demand management; energy justice; and climate resilience for carbon mitigation with transformative adaptation.

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Zoom screenshots of synthesis workshop participants from Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the USA (Photo: Chris Scott).

Smaller groups of workshop participants will work on a publishable paper for 2022, a proposed writeshop, and an HKH-focused energy ecosystems study (with workshop organizer Chi Truong of ICIMOD). Scott will present the workshop's findings at the International Water Resources Association’s World Water Congress in Daegu, South Korea, in November 2021; at a symposium organized by the Colombian Ministry of Science and the World Bank in December 2021; and potentially at the International Mountain Conference in Austria in 2022. Scott will also incorporate the workshop's findings into ongoing activities as the ICIMOD Mountain Chair (2020-22).

According to Scott, the workshop was a resounding success. "Cross-mountain synthesis was invaluable to diagnose challenges and devise common responses – placing mountains at the center of climate-sensitive energy transitions globally." 

A warm thanks go to all participants and of course to the workshop speakers and facilitators:

Biraj Singh Thapa, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kathmandu University, Nepal
Chi Huyen Truong (Shachi), Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), Nepal
Christopher Scott, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, USA
Daniel Viviroli, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Elke Kellner, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Switzerland
Fabian Drenkhan, Imperial College London, UK
Kasvi Singh, TERI School of Advanced Studies, India
Medha Bisht, Department of International Relations, South Asian University, India
Padmendra Shrestha, School of Geography, Development & Environment, University of Arizona, USA
Sarala Khaling, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE), India
Sebastián Riera Yankeliovich, AACREA-CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina
Sebastián Vicuña, Director, School of Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

View the workshop programme here. For more information about the workshop and related activities, please contact the organizers:

  • Chris Scott (Udall Center, University of Arizona, USA): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Chi H Truong (Shachi, ICIMOD): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Achala Sharma (ICIMOD): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This event was funded by the MRI as part of its Call For Synthesis Workshops 2020.  

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