College Park, MD 20740
ABSTRACT: It is through water that society will experience the impact of climate change in a range of diverse sectors. What are the institutional preconditions for framing and accurately representing changes in water (and ice) under climate change that would at least begin to define the problem in these sectors more usefully? In the Greater Himalayan region (and the rest of the Global South), water data are fragmented and unreliable, glacier “information” ranges from false catastrophic predictions to false reassurances (both lacking good data), and the hydrology of mountains is misunderstood as determined by ice and snow on the surface rather than as the groundwater within them. Controversial framings of development compound the problem of understanding societal-water issues and prospects where one social group’s “data” is another’s “noise” to be filtered out. In these conditions, what should be the stance of modelers and other scientists, physical and social, who hope to be able to project climate change impacts and help frame potential policy responses?
BIOGRAPHY: Mr. Dipak Gyawali is an established international authority on water and development issues. He is a hydroelectric power engineer (Moscow Energy Institute) and a political economist (University of California at Berkeley). As Minister of Water Resources in Nepal, he initiated reforms in the electricity and irrigation sectors including privatization of Butwal Power Company, promotion of decentralization through ‘communitization’ of electricity and promulgation of a new irrigation policy giving say to farmer-managed systems. He also initiated the first national review and comparison of Nepali laws with the guidelines of the World Commission on Dams. He has served as a member of the panel of experts of the Mekong River Commission reviewing its basin development plan, and was recently successful in helping catalyse the first Mekong-Ganga dialogue between these two regions. He is the vice-chair of the technical advisory committee of the UN’s World Water Development Report, review chair of UNESCO’s VIth International Hydrological Program, and was also on the International Advisory Board (together with Mr. Robert MacNamara) of the US-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which produced in 1998 the study Human Choice and Climate Change. He is the founding chair of Nepal’s first liberal arts college, the Nepa School of Social Sciences and Humanities; and until 1996, he served as Chairman of Grameen Swabalamban Bikas Kendra, a grassroots NGO working for rural poverty alleviation with 800 income generating groups in 14 districts of Nepal. Mr. Gyawali has been conducting interdisciplinary research on the interface between technology and society, and has published numerous articles on the topic of water, energy, development and climate change issues. He is on his way back to Kathmandu from meetings in Berkeley and Boulder where he serves as vice-president of ISET-International.