13 December 2018, Skardu— A Statement of Intent (SoI) was signed jointly by the University of Baltistan, Skardu, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide a framework of cooperation and strengthen collaboration to foster research and development activities in the Baltistan region.

Under this new collaboration, UNDP will facilitate the University of Baltistan— a Public-Sector University mandated to conduct research and education activities in the areas of environment, climate change, natural resource management and sustainable development —in undertaking action-based research in innovative interventions and identifying nature-based and gender-responsive solutions for issues pertaining to areas such as ecosystem degradation and restoration of flow of eco-system-based goods and services. UNDP and the University of Baltistan will also collaborate to explore potential risk factors in mountain areas related to glacial lake outburst floods and to identify means for the mitigation of these risks. The University of Baltistan will engage students in research in the areas of environment, agriculture, climate change adaptation, natural resource management and other related disciplines, and will explore avenues for creating awareness related to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The United Nations FAO and the University of Baltistan will cooperate to conduct a survey for non-timber forest products —especially medicinal plants and mushrooms to scope their economic and ecological benefits, and evaluate ecosystem services and functions of the dry temperature zone for initiating ‘payment for ecosystem services’. Under the framework, key factors responsible for forest degradation and for landscape restoration will be identified and current mountain agriculture practices will be reviewed with a focus on developing sustainable practices for implementation.

For additional information, please contact Fatimah Inayet at fatimah.inayet@undp.org

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