Scoping assessment on sustainable mountain settlements across the Hindu Kush Himalaya countries

Start and End Dates: 

October 2023 to March 2024


Introduction to the Project:

The HKH region boasts a remarkable blend of ecological diversity and challenging landscapes, harbouring numerous human settlements that showcase rich cultural traditions. However, these settlements face unparalleled challenges stemming from the compounded impacts of climate change, rapid urbanisation, and inadequately planned development. Climate change effects, including altered temperature patterns, fluctuating precipitation, glacial retreat, and intensified extreme weather events, significantly impact the region’s environment, ecosystems, and socio-economic fabric, especially in densely populated areas.


The accelerated pace of urbanisation in the HKH region, combined with subpar infrastructure and urban planning, has given rise to haphazard expansion and over-extraction of resources. The consequential influx of people into urban centres impose substantial pressure on biodiversity, water, energy, and sanitation systems, exacerbating unsustainable living conditions. Additionally, the unplanned growth of settlements heightens their vulnerability to climate-induced risks, necessitating targeted interventions to bolster community resilience.


Considering these pressing challenges, bridging critical data and knowledge gaps on mountain settlements in the HKH region become imperative. A scoping assessment focusing on key trends, evaluating risks and opportunities, and fostering collaborative efforts is essential. Such an assessment in the HKH countries will provide valuable insights to inform evidence-based decision-making, empowering us to ensure the sustainability and resilience of these unique mountain settlements amidst emerging adversities.


The specific objectives of the scoping assessment are to:

  • Understand the key trends and development challenges in mountain settlements across the HKH region in seven countries.
  • Take stock of the current risks, challenges, and opportunities in the context of compounding risks and impacts of climatic and other environmental and socioeconomic changes
  • Foster collaboration with relevant stakeholders including government and non-government organisations to enhance the sustainability and resilience of human mountain settlements



The scoping assessment on sustainable mountain settlements in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) countries directly addresses the pressing challenge of climate change, urbanization, and haphazard development in a region known for its ecological diversity. By studying these mountain settlements, we aim to protect vulnerable communities, promote sustainable development, and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.

The findings will inform policy and governance, build capacity, and raise awareness,

contributing to the broader vision of ICIMOD’s Strategy 2030 for a greener, more inclusive, and climate-resilient HKH. Moreover, the data generated will serve as a valuable resource for future research, making this study a pivotal step toward a more sustainable and resilient HKH region.

Funded By:

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre working on behalf of the people of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). It is based in Kathmandu, Nepal and work in and for eight regional member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.


They work to improve the lives and livelihoods of men, women, and children of the HKH and protect mountain environments and cultures. The knowledge we create and sharehelps the people of the HKH become more resilient, make the most of new opportunities, and prepare for change. Their work strengthens regional cooperation for conservation and sustainable mountain development.