IPM Innovation Lab co-hosts international climate change conference in Nepal

To work on important issues in the face of climate change, the IPM Innovation Lab’s project on biodiversity and climate change assessment in Nepal organized the three-day International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment, and Impacts on Livelihood in Nepal from January 10-12.

President of Nepal with group of people

President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurates the conference along with organizers from Tribhuvan University and Agriculture and Forestry University.

The conference was inaugurated by Nepal’s president Bidya Devi Bhandari, who discussed the importance of scientists and government officials working together to address climate change.

“The whole world is concerned about the biodiversity loss and looming threats of climate change,” the president said. “Despite resource constraints and globalized nature of climate change impact, Nepal has given priority to address these concerns.”

She added that while Nepal’s contributions to global warming are negligible, due to its reliance on agriculture and economic vulnerability, it is forced to face far more than its share of climate change impact in the forms of flooding, deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity and habitat, and the consequent migration of people.

To address these problems, there were symposia on biological control of invasive species, climate smart agriculture, and integrated pest management. In addition, the IPM Innovation Lab organized a special symposium on the invasive tomato pest Tuta absoluta, which was confirmed in Nepal last spring and is already threatening to be a big problem in the country.

“This type of leafminer has the potential to devastate entire districts of agriculture,” said Peter Malnak, USAID’s mission director in Nepal, in his speech during the opening ceremonies of the conference. “If this pest isn’t controlled, it will likely cause significant yield and profit losses for farmers and ultimately higher selling prices, which means it will impact the vast majority of consumers in Nepal.”  

Although Nepal is a small country, it is climatically diverse; traveling fewer than 200 kilometers in Nepal is the equivalent of going from the tropics to the Arctic. And nearly 70% of Nepalese people work in agriculture, making them vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“In a way our country represents the world biodiversity in a miniature as Nepal is composed of mountains, valleys and flatlands,” said Bhandari in her opening address. “It is in this context that the conference is undoubtedly more important for Nepal.”

Overall, the conference had over 300 participants from Nepal and around the world. Organizer Pramod Kumar Jha of Tribhuvan University highlighted the importance of the conference as a large gathering of international scientists coming together to work on important problems.

“People say that this was one of its kind, not organized by any other university in Nepal of this scale and this quality,” Jha said. “This gives me immense satisfaction.”