This time next week, GfGD will be participating in a major international event and conference focused on sustainable resource development in the Himalaya.
The event, composed of a conference, fieldtrips and educational project will examine aspects relating to water resources, environmental change, disaster risk reduction, geotourism, renewable energy and natural resource management.
Our contribution to this event began about a year ago – when we were invited by the Geological Society of London to join the organising committee for the event, with a particular focus on managing the students’ programme taking place in a local school. Last summer, we appointed Rosalie Tostevin as our Himalaya Programme Officer. Rosalie was funded by UCL IRDR to undertake a preliminary reconnaissance of the area (photographs here), gathering information to support the development of the project. We have worked since then on the development of an interactive programme that will support the understanding of hazards and disaster risk reduction by the younger generation. The British Geological Survey’s School Seismology Project have taken a lead on the earthquakes section, and GfGD have taken a lead on the landslides and disaster reduction section.
Our project will begin with a two day education programme in St. Peters School, Leh. Around 125 students from a number of schools in the area will come to take part in a range of activities and lessons relating to natural resources, climate change, landslides and earthquakes/seismology.
Following this event, a major scientific conference will take place in Leh on these topics. Speakers include Professor Tim Wright and Prince Hassan bin Talal (Jordan) who is Chair of the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. Delegates and speakers are expected from across the Himalaya region, and much further.
The final aspect of our project will be a repeat of the students’ programme at the Nomadic Residential School in Puga. This school is for children of nomadic groups living in the region, offering them the chance of an education whilst protecting their nomadic culture and heritage.
In all of these aspects of our work we will be aiming to (i) share our knowledge and expertise, (ii) learn from others about aspects of best practice in both understanding science and understanding culture and social development, (iii) identify practical skills development opportunities for students in the UK.
Support and Engagement in the UK
Over the past 12 months we have had some excellent support from students and recent graduates in the UK. Three outstanding reports were written by placement students Katharine Sherratt (UCL), Sian Hodgkins and Amber Madden-Nadeau (Imperial), available on our website. Support in producing posters for use in the teaching has come from Annie Cheng (Imperial), Devan Scanlan (Plymouth), Katharine Sherratt (UCL) and Celia Willoughby (UCL). A chapter of our booklet on ‘Hazards in the Himalaya’ (published using funding from UCL IRDR) was expertly written by Ekbal Hussain (Leeds). All of this work, a huge task, has been expertly managed by Rosalie Tostevin, a full time PhD student at UCL.
Follow our work on the GfGD Blog and Social Media
Over the next few days we’re hoping to publish some interviews with the GfGD team heading out to Leh, including Joel Gill (Director) and Rosalie Tostevin (GfGD Himalaya Programme Officer). Whilst we’re out in Leh we will do our best (internet access dependent!) to publish interviews with a number of other people attending the event, describing their experiences and insights. We will also try and share photographs! You can also follow the work on the GfGD Facebook and Twitter Pages – and on the personal twitter pages of Joel and Rosalie.
Acknowledgements: We are very grateful to the organising committee of the conference for their support, invitation to participate and regular advice. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and Lydia Press Memorial Fund for their financial support of the hazards component of this project – including both material and personnel costs. We would also like to thank Ashima Thusu (Clovis North Educational Center, California) for her outstanding fundraising efforts.