The "Asian Highlands", a vast mountainous area including the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, are the main source of Asia's rivers, sustaining some 3 billion downstream dwellers. In recent years, the Highlands have been warming at greater than global average rates and ongoing climatic changes are projected to lead to reductions in soil moisture, river flow, glacial mass, and groundwater. Socioeconomic pressures on water resources are also increasing. While highland dwellers experience both threats and opportunities from these changes, many people, particularly the disadvantaged, face growing vulnerabilities. Furthermore, regional governments have been slow to include local peoples in decision making about water and their future.
To address these problems, our research project will use four modules to integrate new scientific data on projected regional climate change impacts on water resources, with social science data and dialogues that explore local peoples' livelihood vulnerabilities. We will also use policy research and information gained from key national and regional decision makers to assess barriers and bridges to more cooperative water governance.