behalf of the staff, Board of Governors, and partners of
ICIMOD and the Mountain Forum from throughout the greater
Himalayan region and the whole mountain world, I have the
saddest duty to express our heartfelt condolences to their
families, their colleagues, their friends, and all the rest
are overwhelmed by the enormity of this loss. That so many
beautiful souls, so many great minds, so many generous hearts,
so many friends could go at one time is still not possible
to believe. Our sorrow joins all of yours. Our loss, small
compared to the loss experienced by the closest family and
friends, is still so large that we understand darkly the
huge holes that have been created in your lives. We assure
you that we are here for you, to support you in any way
outstanding contributions of these individuals stand as
tall as the sacred Himalaya they worked so hard to document,
conserve and celebrate. Many of them were born of these
mountains, sons and daughters of this soil. Others came
to join in helping mountain peoples' improve their lives
and nurture their magnificent landscapes, plants and animals.
All of them contributed far more than most of us could imagine
to bringing new understandings, new approaches for empowering
local peoples, new science, creative models, and the financial
and administrative support without which their ideas could
not have been turned into reality.
leave us a legacy that will live on and on beyond our lives.
They leave us a challenge: how can we carry on their mission
of understanding and conserving the dynamic intricate ecosystems
that make up the Himalaya and adjoining plains; of understanding
and empowering local people and supporting them with appropriate
policies and programmes so that it is local people who stand
as our guardians?
people we honor today had that ability to radically alter
our ideas and change the way we think.
to Dr. Harka Gurung, we now view the map of Nepal and see
the wealth of ethnic and linguistic diversity, the janjatis
and dalits, who have been for so long hidden.
to Dr. Chandra Gurung, and Mr. Mingma Sherpa and their colleagues,
we have new models of community based conservation and tourism;
new models of landscape conservation.
to Dr. Tirtha Man Maskey, Mr. Narayan Poudel, Dr. Damodar
Parajuli, and Mr. Sharad Rai and their colleagues - working
under the guidance of Ministers such as the Honorable Mr.
Gopal Rai - we have new models of national parks, new ways
of protecting species, new forms of community management.
Where the forest and parks department officials and local
people used to distrust and dislike each other - they helped
create new friendships between foresters, conservationists
and local communities. Communities so ably represented by
local leaders such as Mr. Dawa Tsering Sherpa.
to visionary and compassionate donor representatives such
as Pauli Mustonen of the Finish Embassy, Margaret Alexander
and Dr. Bignan Acharya of USAID and their colleagues, the
WWF US and UK through committed officials like Dr. Jill
Bowling, Ms. Jennifer Headley, and Mr. Mathew Preece, these
towering leaders were able to translate their visions into
reality. Dedicated conservation media persons Yeshi Lama,
Hem Raj Bhandari and Sunil Kumar Singh were the translators
- the ones who shared this wonderful work with the rest
ICIMOD's perspective, these people and their organizations
are partners in a number of our programmes and projects.
The Sacred Himalayan Landscape. Trans- Boundary Biodiversity
Conservation with India and Bhutan and China. Regional projects
for Himalayan high altitude wetlands and community based
rangelands in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, and India . The
global and HKH Mountain Partnership. Assets and Benefit
Sharing of the Convention on Biodivserity Conservation.
Decision Support Systems for protected area and ecosystem
management with China and Pakistan. Twining between Sagarmatha
National Park and a mountain national parks in Italy and
Pakistan. International Mountain Day. Watershed management.
The list goes on. We realized that in the last ten days,
we had been in touch with every passenger on that helicopter,
either officially or unofficially.
Secretaries, scientists, and development practitioners associated
with ICIMOD from Afghanistan, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Myanmar,
Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, and the UK
and USA are among those who have requested me to share their
sorrow and condolences with you.
had met all of these people. Some have been my Guru, my
colleagues and my close friends for 10, 20, and even 32
years. I eat dal bhat with them. I even ate dhiro and sisnu
ko sag with them, washed down with local moi, sucha, or
rakshi. I shared their tents and their camp fires, their
stories, their jokes.
you know, these dedicated people were amazing - out of the
ordinary. They spoke truth even when it was uncomfortable.
They dedicated their lives to hard work even if it was not
recognized. They loved life - and loved to enjoy it. They
inspire us to combine compassion with trust and love of
nature with love of people. They taught us how to keep learning
and how to value what we have.
salute them, each and every one. We wish them peace in the
lap of the sacred Himalaya they loved so deeply. Thank you.