Commission on Ecosystem Management

South Asia

Workshop on Ecosystem Management, Nature based Solutions and SDGs

Regional Chair Shalini Dhyani 

Regional co-chair Hemanthi Ranasinghe

CEM Steering Committee Focal Point Madhav Karki

Countries of the Region:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

The South Asian regional network of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM-SA)  is a regional platform of global significance comprised of experts, professionals and emerging leaders (youth) for contributing and sharing knowledge that is helping for up gradation and development of existing knowledge related to the concerns, challenges and prospects of ecosystem management and transboundary conservation efforts in the region.

Overview of the Region

As per approved IUCN programme 2017-2020 South Asia has been considered as a region that requires greatest conservation need among IUCN’s eight Statutory Regions. South Asia region is home to a number of Protected Areas; Trans boundary Sacred & Biodiversity Landscapes and seascapes; Biosphere Reserves; Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs); Wetlands in many shared landscapes and ecosystems. Region has many mega biodiversity hotspots and shares several hydro-geological features made up of following important topographic regions and ecosystems:

  • Mountain ranges of the Himalayas and Hindukush
  • Deccan plateaus
  • Fertile Indo-Gangetic plain and
  • Coastal and marine
  • Islands

Each of these ecosystems provides immense ecosystem benefits and values to the world at large. Biodiversity hot spots Himalaya (Eastern and Western Himalaya), and Hindu Kush mountain ranges separate the South Asian subcontinent from the rest of Asia covering India, Nepal and Bhutan. To the south of the mountain ranges of Himalayas is the 200 mile-wide fertile and Indo-Gangetic plain that harbors one of the richest and oldest agriculture practicing areas of the world.  Indigenous crops and cropping patterns that can withstand climate variability and vulnerabilities are characteristic to this plain. To the south of the indo-gangetic plain in India is the Deccan plateau, a relatively flat highland area that lies between the Western Ghat Mountains (another mega biodiversity hot spot) that separates the plateau from the coastline. Four countries in South Asia - India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives harbor extensive mangroves, coral reefs, and marine areas of Indian Ocean and Arabian sea that has world’s most significant coastal and marine biodiversity. Andaman and Nicobar islands are significant island groups of S. Asia.

South Asia is home to many traditional and indigenous communities dwelling in remote as well as sensitive and fragile ecosystems. These communities have helped in shaping conservation and management of natural resources of these sensitive and fragile ecosystems. Many of these sustainable practices are still relevant in changing world.

The region has been facing increasing occurrence of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, cyclones, and tidal surges; deforestation and degradation; rapid changes in land-use; and increasing climate led variability and vulnerabilities. These natural events accelerated with man made activities are going to have severe impacts on ecosystems in coming decades. Integrated management of mountains, river basins and coastal and marine environment is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability of this sub-region. Successful conservation of threatened biodiversity elements and management of ecosystems require cross-border collaboration and participation. There is a lot of scope for collaborative learning across South Asia and CEM-SA Network will work for it.


Healthy, resilient ecosystems that conserve nature and sustain life


During 2017-2020 network aims to influence improving the knowledge base on complex issues related to ecosystem conservation and healthy ecosystems by understanding the values of biodiversity and ecosystems and emerging drivers of biodiversity loss. Network will be generating and using advanced and emerging knowledge for understanding the scenario and influencing policy by sharing documents, success stories, experiences and practices related to climate change adaptation and nature-based solutions. Knowledge generated by CEM that leads to action and policy influence will be used to fill the gaps as well as along stimulating the generation of new knowledge.


Various stakeholder groups (GOs, NGOs, Academicia, R&D organisations, CBOs etc.) are part of IUCN CEM S. Asia network for supporting and contributing to the overall IUCN CEM targets and objectives for 2017-2020 by working at regional platform under following objectives:

  1. Stimulate and endorse key values and benefits of biodiversity from diverse ecosystems understanding the diverse values of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the region.
  2. Assess the drivers of biodiversity loss as well as other emerging megatrends (agricultural practices,     urbanization, demographic pressures) and extent of damage to the ecosystems.
  3. Understand the ecological risks for sensitive ecosystems of the region under climatic led variabilities and vulnerabilities and coherent approaches to address these complex ecosystem related issues.
  4. Evaluate multifaceted and interconnected linkages between socio-economic set ups; biodiversity loss and sustainable ecosystem management.
  5. Encourage nature based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches supported with indigenous and traditional knowledge as an answer to emerging complex issues.
  6. Develop and propose innovative ecosystem based approaches to rehabilitate degraded and disturbed ecosystems for their revival.
  7. Support IUCN-CEM with regional scenario, solutions and case studies for preparing policy documents, knowledge banks and manuals of implementation for various governmental and intergovernmental agencies

Action plans (2017-2020)

CEM-SA Core Group involves 10 members Core Group from South Asia CEM members. Core Group works to identify pertinent issues related to CEM Agenda ands interact more intensively on complex issues leading to wider learning and sharing of experiences within the regional CEM community providing to CEM steering committee on ecosystem management. Action plan for 2017-2020 will be falling under following proposed set of activities.

  • Increased collaboration among experts, professionals, practitioners and training emerging leaders and developing an active work force and network of empowered CEM members at regional level by increased involvement and dissemination of CEM agenda and plans for 2017-2020.
  • Participation in important meetings, conferences, workshops and capacity building programme and also organizing relevant workshops that fulfill objectives of CEM agenda and 2017-2020 targets.
  • Active monthly contribution to the CEM Chair Flash News.
  • Quarterly Newsletter covering regional news, events, publications, relevant success stories.
  • Developing a blog/wikispace page to share CEM-SA achievements and news and also contribution of articles to popular environmental magazines for wider endorsement.
  • Developing background paper; policy paper etc. related to nature based solutions, ecosystem based approaches; environmental governance etc.
  • Providing support to local, regional, national and international agencies (GOs, NGOs, UNEP, UNDP, Wetlands International, IPBES etc.) working in S Asia.   
  • Intra commission and Inter commission collaboration for knowledge sharing and fulfilling IUCN targets.

Some of the relevant international initiatives CEM-SA members are involved in are as follow:

IPBES Regional and Global Assessments

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the intergovernmental body that assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers. IPBES is placed under the auspices of four United Nations entities: UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP and administered by UNEP. Peer review forms a key component of the work of IPBES to ensure that a range of views is reflected in its work, and that the work is complete to the highest scientific standards. CEM-SA members are closely involved and providing the highest scientific input as Co-coordinating, Lead as well as supporting authors to many IPBES thematic Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production; Regional Assessment of Asia Pacific 2(b) and, Global Assessments as well as capacity building programme.

UNDP Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net)

The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) is a capacity building “network of networks” that promotes dialogue among science, policy and practice for more effective management of biodiversity and ecosystems, contributing to long-term human wellbeing and sustainable development. The Network is supported by face-to-face capacity building activities (the BES-Net Trialogues), a matchmaking facility, and a cutting-edge web portal – with all components mutually reinforcing. BES-Net is hosted by the UNDP Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification (GC-RED) and implemented through partnerships with the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Norwegian Environment Agency and SwedBio at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Some of the CEM members are closely associated with this network that has a huge scope for South Asia being highly impacted by biodiversity loss and ecosystem damages.

PEDRR Partnerships for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction

Formally established in 2008, the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) is a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes. As a global thematic platform of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), PEDRR seeks to promote and scale-up implementation of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and ensure it is mainstreamed in development planning at global, national and local levels, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The PEDRR Secretariat is hosted at the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) of the United Nations Environment Program in Geneva, Switzerland. Some of the CEM members are actively involved with this network that has a huge scope for South Asia being highly impacted by increasing intensity and impact of disasters in changing climate.


Leaders for Nature and CEM South Asia Region, in collaboration with CSIR National Environmental Engineering Research Institute Nagpur are organizing a Workshop on " Ecosystem Management, Nature Based Solutions and SDGs---Perspectives from South Asia" on 4 Dec., 2017 at India Habitat Center, New Delhi India. The workshop anticipates participants from around regional countries with thought provoking presentations and brainstorming.This would involve a multi stakeholder dialogues, bringing together South Asia's leading researchers, scientists, professionals and managers to share their ideas and experiences about different aspects of Ecosystems and Landscape management. Please download more information about this event at the side of this webpage. 

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